The essence of Event Storming in 3 minutes

2 minute read

Identify events on stickies to make sure they happen as you wish. This is what event storming is about.

Events are things that happen

Things happened for you this morning at the start of your day.

You probably heard the alarm clock, then switched it off. When it rang again, you got up, showered, got dressed, had breakfast, etc.

The steps of my morning routine

All these are past events.

Events will also happen in the future.

If I imagine the next weekend, for example, I wish to have done the following stuff by Sunday:

  • played with my kids,
  • slept for 8 hours on Saturday night,
  • had a drink with friends,
  • bought some groceries at the local shop,
  • had a nice dinner with my partner,
  • watched the next chapter of my favorite series.

Event storming is the act of displaying these events on a wall.

The steps of my weekend

That’s it! You’ve now understood what event storming is about!

Ok, ok… maybe you want to know a bit more, but, honestly, you already know all the basics! Event storming is a technique to collectively visualize events and do something from there.

Why would you want to visualize events on a wall?

Like the tip of an iceberg rising above the water, events are the most visible aspects of a larger complex - but not always the most important - Donella H. Meadows in Thinking in Systems

Guess what? Events do not happen by magic!

To use Donella Meadows’s iceberg metaphor, once events are visible, you can look below the surface. And the system structure is what resides below the surface. The structure of a system is what causes its repetitive behavior, which in turn is observed through events.

Iceberg with events at the top, bahavior at the bottom and structure below the surface

Here is an example from this morning:

  • You switched off the alarm clock this morning (event).
  • You do this 4 times every morning on average (repetitive behavior)
  • And, guess what: every night, the concentration of caffeine in your blood is high (this concentration is one expression of the system structure)

Summary: what is event storming about?

To summarize, when you do event storming:

  • you start by visualizing the events, the easily observable things
  • then you dig into behavior and system structures

Your goal can be, at will:

  • either to change an existing system for the better
  • or to design a system that will allow the desired events to happen (and the undesired ones to not happen).

Hopefully, at this stage, you are starting to get a sense of what event storming is about.

So let’s have a look at some examples. In other posts, we’ll illustrate the above with short stories in which Event Storming is used:

  1. to improve a team’s workflow
  2. to draft a software design in details

This blog post is part of the 1h Event Storming book that we are currently writing.

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