I read a very good article by Alistair Cockburn (no online link…sorry…dead tree magazine, by subscription only) that discusses the likelihood that many stakeholders use “game boards” to direct their activities during requirements elicitation. Quoting (with proper attribution!):

“[W]e really can’t understand what is happening on the project without taking into account the side games that people are playing at the same time.” – Better Software Magazine, August 2007, pg. 33

The concept here is that everybody, including and especially stakeholders, use “game boards” that can be predicted using activity theory. As an example, a project sponsor may be (quoting again) “…playing on game boards centered around career growth, relationships with peers, and relationships with other communities (user communities, business partners, etc.). The outcome of the game called build system X is evaluated by the sponsor with respect to how his position changes on all those other game boards.”

My question for y’all is, “How often do we move beyond the things we need to know about the project at hand, to understanding what it is that makes our stakeholders tick?”

Thoughts?

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