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Event Storming: Unlock Lightning Collaboration!


14 Dec 2023 | Michal Szkudlarek

A robust approach to modelling complex business domains is vital when undertaking fast paced domain-driven design projects, and this is where event storming can be useful.

In this series of Event Storming articles, we’ll look closely at the value of event storming and how best to leverage it, providing tips and tricks to help you along the way.

The Event Storming series of articles will cover:

Look out for these as they become available!

What is Event Storming? 

In this first article, “Event Storming: Unlock Lightning Collaboration!”, we introduce the concept of event storming and then explore how gravity9 has used it to significant effect!

Event storming is a collaborative approach to breaking apart and better understanding complex problems – conducted as a group exercise – with the group made up of experts playing several roles: those asking questions and providing answers, and a facilitator. The group will be multi-disciplined and as a sum of its parts it will have a lot of knowledge, vision, and skills.

IT challenges aren’t the only thing that event storming can be useful for solving. It could be used to understand the viability of a new startup business model, or it could help to design clean, maintainable event-driven software, or it could suggest improvements (or detect bottlenecks) in a business’s sales process!

The process of event storming can be physical or virtual, requiring either an empty wall space, sticky notes, and pens (if physical) or appropriate collaboration software like Miro or Mural (if virtual). One of the group members with “answers” will explain the overarching problem to be solved, and sticky notes (with different assigned significances) will be used to describe events, hotspots (conflicts, which covers a variety of forms), actors, and external systems. As the data is gathered and built out, so a more complete picture of the subject model is rapidly created.

To reiterate: Event storming can be rapid, thorough, dynamic and utilise the benefits of insights from multiple experts in a short space of time.

Example of event storming led by gravity9 and a client.

How has gravity9 harnessed the power of Event Storming?

We’ve explained the broad strokes of how event storming works as well as its usefulness, but what has gravity9 achieved with it?

In our first example we utilised event storming to kick-start our development of a new data platform for a major healthcare organisation.

We conducted a two-day event that was facilitated by our own team and attended by representatives from the client, product users, regulatory market, domain data experts and ancillary users. Each of these were able to add rich context and perspective to the functionality, user journey and requirements of the platform. Not only could we visualise complex development cycles but also what wasn’t needed, allowing for anything irrelevant or redundant to be cut from development. As a result, several months of development time were saved!

All the attending stakeholders, but most of all the client, gained valuable insights (from us, and each other) into how different users would interact with the platform and the information it hosts. The completed process provided multi-faceted clarity to both processes and data flows.

(Note: For this event storming session we used non-standard colour conventions, grouping colour to represent groups of people, helping to visualise what groups are concerned with what parts of the platform and data).

To show the flexibility of event storming, and the different purposes it can be useful for, our second example is of an internal gravity9 event held at our Wroclaw office. The goal was to evaluate our approach to people management; specifically, our recruitment process and how we best utilised our “bench” staff – those not deployed to an active client project.

Here we facilitated our own event storming session but were joined by internal stakeholders including technical and finance directors, recruitment and human resources leads, and operations management. As in the previous example, we found this blend of different perspectives and specialisms provided deep insights quickly – and in ways we couldn’t have predicted setting out – identifying blockers and bottlenecks as well as a range of solutions.

As a result, we’ve been able to streamline our own recruitment process, improving hiring quality and efficiency as well as enabling a better experience for potential candidates throughout our hiring process. Our bench staff are also better utilised on several creative and personal development levels!

“Is event storming right for me?”

We’ve introduced event storming here, and provided some examples that show that as a methodology it can be adapted to suit any number of needs. Thorough instructions to conduct an event storming session can be found on many websites online – we won’t duplicate that here – but we will instead point out how event storming can be customised to suit your specific needs. Its strength lies in combining the experience of stakeholders from different backgrounds to provide perspectives which resonate and provide a route to rapidly identifying challenges, goals, solutions and so on.

Don’t be afraid to play with the format to suit needs!