Kipling and Keogh on Requirements

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A short thought today…

From age 11 to 16, written on the wall of my school sports hall was the following quote.

I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

It wasn’t credited, nobody spoke about it or referenced it. I never really thought about its source, I wasn’t a reader of much classic literature or poetry (preferring fantasy and comics) and I didn’t really consider its value but it stuck with me.

Some years later I looked it up.

Here’s the full version

I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea, I send them east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men.

But different folk have different views; I know a person small- She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs, From the second she opens her eyes-

One million Hows, two million Wheres, And seven million Whys!

 

The next time you’re looking at requirements, use cases, user stories or similar, consider…

Who is wanting to achieve what and why?

Where would they normally do this, when is the right time and how would they do so?

Take this a step further. Ask “why?” just once more.

And if you’re still writing user stories as “In order to … I want… so that…”, then take a read of Liz Keogh’s recent post.

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