Wat? What is sweatboxing?
Film production technique from Disney, also used by Pixar. Animators gather every morning with the film’s director to review previous day’s work (rushes).
- animation is time-consuming
- changes are costly and painful
- many many people are working on a film at once
- the work needs to fit together so that the vision and story flow
Called Sweatbox because…
- the room Disney used was hot
- work people have slaved over is ruthlessly, brutally scrutinised
Why use Sweatbox when building apps?
- all the same production problems as animation, but with user experience, usability, support and maintenance added for Extra Fun Times
- quickly find what isn’t working (team-sized variant of hallway testing)
- find opportunities for plus-ing (Pixar’s technique for adding more to good ideas)
- you want to build an outstandingly good artefact, right? So critique what you’re building, honestly and relentlessly
Things Sweatbox isn’t:
- this is not the standup meeting for whatever agile methods you’re using (standup is not a place for critique)
- not testing with end users against their actual needs
- not a planning meeting
- not tea and biscuits meetings
- not a beasting session for individuals on the team
How are we doing it?
- big TV – not the real environment an app is used in, but big = easier to see (grouping around a single laptop is terrible, and is even less like using the real app)
- standing up, creates freedom to move and think, to enter into or withdraw from confrontation, and to move to point at things
- done on the floor where the rest of the team (account managers, sales consultants etc) work, so they can be drawn in quickly for testing + opinion
Do these or you’re doing Sweatbox wrong:
- no holds barred – total honesty
- BUT critique the artefact not the person
- “did you consider [xyz]?”: good
- “this is going to cause support issues”: good
- “you should have done [xyz]“: bad
- “that flow sucks because [xyz]“: good
- “you have completely screwed this up”: bad
- “would [xyz] work better?”: good
- “you are a dumbass”: bad
Wot no picture?
Nah, it’s just us standing round a TV. Imagine it if you must.