Named, somewhat ironically, after the 1986 movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short, a Three Amigos workshop is the first step in the discovery process for understanding the requirements of upcoming development work.
But more important than that — and the part which is sorely missed by skipping this step — they provide a shared understanding between stakeholders of why a change needs to happen and alignment on what a solution should look like.
What’s in a name?
The name is a reference to the three perspectives to be represented at the workshop and their roles within it:
- Business: What problem are we trying to solve?
- Development: How might we build a solution to solve that problem?
- Testing: What about..? What should happen if..?
Or, to put it another way, as suggested by John Ferguson Smart:
- One to Request
- One to Suggest
- One to Protest
At Foxsoft, these roles are typically played by a stakeholder most closely aligned with the problem in your business, one of our software engineers, and a product manager. But precisely who plays which role at any given point during the workshop is somewhat dynamic as the collaborative juices flow — resulting in something greater than the sum of its parts.
We host the three amigos workshops as close to the start of development as possible. Each typically focuses on a single theme (i.e. problem to be solved) and lasts up to two hours.
Following the workshop, the product manager will write up the ticket with the pertinent information from the workshop, and the engineer will gather any necessary knowledge to provide an estimate. This confirms that we’ve understood what was agreed upon and allows us to gain informed consent to proceed.
We’ve had great success in adopting Three Amigos workshops here at Foxsoft, and you don’t even need to have watched the film for them to be beneficial (although it wouldn’t hurt).