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A theory of presentation and its implications for the design of online technical documentation
©1997 Detlev Fischer, Coventry University, VIDe (Visual and Information Design) centre

Appendix IV-Brainstorming summary

The cinegram design process involved a  brainstorming [1] session which took ca. 90 minutes and involved 6 service engineers of the oil system group, and one consultant who was formerly a manager at Rolls Royce and is a seasoned troubleshooting specialist. In a first silent phase of ca. 15 minutes, service engineers articulated ideas on cards. The rest of the time these ideas were discussed and elaborated. The designer continued to record the main ideas on cards which were sorted with the other cards.

The  session started in response to the following prompt by the designer:

Think of the way you use ETGs and system diagrams today. Given the possibility of an interactive information system based on ETGs and systems diagrams,

A list of the main issues is presented below. Quotes are from the cards distributed before the session. The following topics seem to encapsulate the main requirements:

The list attempts to reflect the ranking of requirements. This ranking, however, is not based on a quantitative measure (e.g., based on the number of times a particular requirement was mentioned in the brainstorming cards); instead, is based on the perceived importance of topics in the group discussion following the written part of the brainstorming [2].

Footnotes to Appendix IV-Brainstorming summary

[1] The procedure followed the brainstorming method described by Jones (1992/1970, p274).

[2] There are at least three reasons why a quantitative measure does not work: (1) Requirements are expressed differently by each member. Mapping the lexical items on the cards onto conceptual categories always involves choices which could be made differently; (2) A number of items express several requirements simultaneously; for example, a card carrying the inscription "Call up different ETGs (with pressures, temp, etc.) for varying flight conditions" points at structural integration ("different ETGs"), data access ("pressures, temp, etc.") and temporal integration ("varying flight conditions") at the same time; (3) Important requirements hardly mentioned on the cards forcefully emerged in the discussion. The need for quick access, for example, was actually not often put on the brainstorming cards, but was strongly emphasised by everyone in the following discussion once it surfaced as a topic. It seems that this requirement was so central that is was in fact transparent to people explicitly seeking to define desirable system properties.

Last update: 08 November 2007 | Impressum—Imprint