Friday, May 05, 2006

Apprenticing

Some product managers employ ethnography to strengthen their understanding of the market for their product. These product managers observe prospective customers in their natural environment.

A related concept is apprenticing. In Mastering the Requirements Process, Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson describe apprenticing as follows:
"Apprenticing is a wonderful way to observe the real work. Apprenticing is based on the idea of masters and apprentices. In this case, the requirements analyst is the apprentice, and the user is the master craftsman. The apprentice sits with the master to learn the job by observation, asking questions and doing some of the work under the master's supervision."

"If the user is doing his job in his normal workplace, he can provide a running commentary and provide details that may otherwise be lost. It is probably only while working that the user is able to describe his task precisely, tell you why he is doing things, and what exceptions can occur."
Apprenticing is a hybrid of ethnography and one-on-one interviews.

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