Presented by Marc Evers and Willem van den Ende


A long, long time ago, an architect called Christopher Alexander thought about how things take shape. How do designers shape (physical) objects, how do they resolve conflicts in what needs to be built? Why are so many buildings and tools unattractive? Can we create better things with less effort? The goal of Alexander's design process is to create a solution that is a good fit to its context. His design approach focuses on all the forces that play in the context you're designing for, then finding a specific form that resolves these forces. Realizing the design gives you feedback on how well the design fits its context - i.e. how well the design resolves all the relevant forces. Achieving fitness is a highly iterative approach, where you evaluate the goodness of fit of your design, find the 'misfits' and then adapt your design to achieve an increasingly better goodness of fit.

 In this workshop, we will explore together if we can use the current state of the practice (e.g. standard agile practices, a/b testing, crowdsourcing, business intelligence on software that is running in production) to 'listen to our software' in a different way. Maybe we can use Alexander's context + fit/misfit design process and improve on it.

We will find out how other participants shape their software, then do a short demonstration of Alexander's design process. We wil investigate the fit or misfit of this approach to your context hands-on, by letting you apply it to your own product. Together we will contrast this with what we are all doing at the moment. This will give you will a feel for if you can benefit from this perspective on design.

Format and length:

A workshop that's a bit On the Edge ;-) of 90 minutes

Intended audience and prerequisites:

product managers, product owners, business analysts, developers, testers

Objective of the session:

Explore if some of Alexander's design concepts can be beneficial in an IT context

Benefits, for the participants and the presenters:

for the participants:

  • try a different approach to product development
  • understand if thinking in forces and (mis)fits instead of features and requirements gives more options and delivers more value
  • learn a new way to focus on what is valuable in a product
  • better understand the work of interaction designers

for the presenters:

  • understand Christopher Alexander's work better by preparing and running the session (check. Willem :)
  • see if other people see benefits of applying these ideas to software / product development
  • learn about how this approach fits in/reinforces/interacts with other (agile) practices and techniques