Re: Squatter Sessions

- - The original note follows - -

From: [email protected] (DAVID SINGER)
Subject: Re: Squatter Sessions
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 1994 09:27:00 GMT


DT>In the world of architecture and arch. design, there is a technique for
DT>gathering requirements called "squatter-session". This technique utilizes
DT>non-stop meetings with all required folks present in order to gather
DT>requirements with a vastly reduced time span to do so.
DT>I'm looking for firms that employ this technique - with an eye to finding
DT>documentation on how to conduct and manage these sessions.
--------------------- end of original message ---------------------
[much more wordy one follows]
Don,

AH! The technique I used to use when designing large systems.

I prefer Daniel Mittleman's groupware approach now, because of the
difficulty of simply getting everyone together. However, squatter
sessions sometime become essential because the clock is moving so
much faster than the project. Squatter sessions put the train back on
the track, where every last body is required *right now*.

Recently I had the priviledge of a personalized plant tour of
Freudenberg-NOK (in Manchester, NH) to observe the results of their
"lean-management technique" KAIZEN. It was nothing short of amazing.

Hear me through on this, Don, because I believe they use the same
crucial ingredients you are looking for, and I am urging you to call a
key contact so you may judge for yourself. Not to mention the fact that
Freudenberg-NOK makes engineered plastics that outperform metal
("the M word" as they put it) which Lockheed should also consider, IMHO.

Whether you have "everybody" (as in a squatter session) or "a lean team"
(as in KAIZEN) there are only a few essentials which, if not locked down
tight, would blow apart the meeting. The three best words to describe
the "conduct and manage" technique for both are *sequester the jury*.

So, for a concise, functional reply which puts the problem solving in a
nutshell ("documentation"? This is an art, not a science) I have
greased the skids so you can contact directly:

David Carter, Manager, Custom Moulded Products
Freudenberg-NOK, Manchester, NH
His direct line is: 603-628-7009
David is great on follow up calls if he is out.
He assured me that if Lockheed wished to pursue KAIZEN
techniques beyond what you and he talk about, that he would put
you in touch with the KAIZEN leadership team.
Ask him what happens when the president is chosen for a team...

I will caution you that my experience with squatter sessions is that,
like most communal efforts, at some point the focus will be directed
strongly against several present (but heretofore non-participatory)
attendees, who will then pass the favor viciously to the heavy hitters.
It takes less than 30 seconds of this "venting" towards critical mass
before a riot (I mean fisticuffs and all sorts of unpleasantness) breaks
out! Remember, the train is off the track and nobody thinks they were
the one at the throttle.

Consquently, before locking the doors, make sure the diet does not give
the members a sugar high, is high in proteins, and that there are decent
men's/women's facilities within the confines. I've always held the
sessions at a neutral, placid (nature) setting with no phones, no fax,
no personal vehicles, and a damned good caterer. I made sure the place
was ours alone. Every attendee was told that the meeting will last much
longer than *you* think it will. It always last longer than even that.

I also studied each of the political axes the footdraggers were
grinding, and seeded several friendly cohorts with potential tactics
which could be used to wedge potential rioters apart. The moderator
gets killed in conditions like that, so somebody else has to be point
man, giving the moderator a foundation upon which to drag the offensive
ones back in line.

Like I said, this is an art, not a science. Experiences can be retold
for the learning, but documentation is difficult.

Talk to David Carter about the secrets to sequestering, and you will
appear to be a master of squatter sessions. The secrets fit on the back
of an envelope. Books give success stories, validating the secrets.
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