Brian Slesinsky's Weblog

Monday, 19 Mar 2007

Requirements Considered Harmful

"Since it's difficult to decide what to build, and since decisions are based on decisions, it's often likely that in a pile of decisions there's a few that are just bad decisions. Figuring out which are bad is difficult. By difficult, I mean darn near impossible.

"Asking for those decisions as requirements avoids the difficulty of figuring out which are wrong by placing all the responsibility on to the person [who] made them. By calling them 'requirements' we ask this person to take full responsibility for their decisions. We're not collaborators. We're not here to help.

"Taking responsibility for one's decisions is usually a good thing. However, requirements documents have an aptitude for anonymizing decisions - for obfuscating the person or people who made them, and the motivations for those decisions. Sadly, the net result is no one taking responsibility. And often no one to even ask exactly who decided this was a requirement and why."

- Jeff Patton