Requirements by Collaboration. Ellen Gottesdiener

With thanks to Ian Alexander for the following: It really isn't every day that someone writes a book that provides a completely fresh take on requirements. Ellen Gottesdiener has managed to do just that. This readable and practical book is visibly based on a wealth of direct experience of facilitating requirements workshops, and her message is focused exclusively on the power of the workshop approach. This does mean that this book isn't for every project - if you are working on a subsystem under a strict contract, there is little scope for collaborating with stakeholders to work out the requirements together. To her credit, Gottesdiener carefully points out the limits of her approach, and she is admirably well-read.

The book uses the language of Use Cases, and refers to other UML diagrams along the way. It also mentions software from time to time, but this is definitely a book that is useful in systems of all types - from civil engineering projects to personal music players.

There are parts of this book that benefit enormously from Gottesdiener's natural enthusiasm, and the simple fact that she is American. She is able to talk in a simple and effective way about making workshops fun; about drawing mandalas and using the 4 principles of the native American medicine wheel; even about using toys as prizes and holding warm-up exercises to get people into collaborative mood.

Even engineers who have been running workshops for years will find new insights, conceptual tools and techniques in this lively and welcome contribution. Every requirements engineer should have a copy in a handy place on their bookshelf.