event storming

How to run an event storming workshop

Reading time: about 6 min

Let’s address the bad news first: this is not an article teaching you how to storm a castle. That simply requires too many sheep and trebuchets and suits of armor to keep in an office. 

The good news is that this article is about how to run a productive event storming workshop that will help you address complex features and prevent edge cases. It’s also great when you’re getting ready to implement a specific component and want to better understand the repercussions of that implementation. 

Is it as fun as launching sheep over a castle wall? No: it’s better. The best part is that, with Lucidspark, leading an event storming workshop can work when your team is distributed, remote, or you simply want to be more efficient. Grab your lance, and read on. 

Who should be involved in an event storming workshop?

Involving the right people in your event storming workshop will yield the best outcomes. These people—usually developers or engineers—will know which questions to ask the domain experts. You’ll need no more than 8 people and no fewer than 4. 

You’ll also need to designate a moderator. Bear in mind that there is another, more nuanced, requirement for participating in an event storming workshop, and that is that your participants need to be engaged. This is a highly collaborative activity that requires active participation, so if a member of the event isn’t energetic or willing, it could ruin the whole workshop. The number of participants is purposely kept low to reduce complexity, but that also means that no one can coast along on the input of others. 

How to run an event storming workshop

We’ll be providing both in-person instructions and virtual model storming instructions for use with Lucidspark, so no matter how your team is set up, you’ll be able to run a great workshop. 

1. Set the stage

If this is your team’s first event storming workshop, consider sending out a link to articles that explain what event storming is to give everyone an idea of what to expect. 

In person: Before the event begins, prepare the room by pushing chairs and tables to the side and clearing the walls of other materials. You'll need an unreasonable number of sticky notes on hand (of all colors), lots of markers, butcher paper, and a very large bowl of jelly beans (ok, the jelly beans aren’t really critical, but they help).  

Roll the butcher paper out on the walls, doubling up to create a massive writable surface. It’s smart to draw a legend that dictates what each color of sticky note means:

  • Orange - Event 
  • Blue - Command
  • Pink - System
  • Purple - Process

With Lucidspark: No butcher paper or markers required. Before the event, prepare a virtual board and assign a contributor color to each participant. It’s helpful to create a legend that reminds attendees what each color sticky note means and how the workshop itself works. This cuts down on questions throughout the workshop. 

Also stress that participants should avoid using jargon throughout the workshop, as that specialized language may not translate between teams. With both in-person and Lucidspark event workshops, it’s smart to keep a glossary for easy reference on the board for terms that may be new to some within the team.

One of (many) benefits to using Lucidspark is that comments can be easily added to sticky notes throughout the workshop, and it’s clear who’s made every comment. So, for instance, if someone comments that subscription products always cause issues, you can see who made the comment at a single glance.

2. Give instructions

Let your facilitator give a short overview of how an event storming workshop works and what you hope to accomplish from the session. Allow for time to answer questions and give a quick demonstration to make sure everyone understands how the workshop will work. 

The facilitator should keep an eye on stickers that are being added to the board and adjust if they don’t follow the legend.

3. Add events

Now it’s time for participants to add orange event sticky notes.

In person: Events should be organized chronologically and should progress clockwise around the room.

With Lucidspark: Add sticky notes to your Lucidspark board. To encourage momentum, use a timer and set a time for everyone to add events to the board. Lucidspark also allows emojis to indicate critical events and share feedback. 

4. Add commands

In person: Move to the blue sticky notes and indicate which commands are performed by the user. You may also wish to indicate which user by adding a yellow sticky note that describes the user. Connect sticky notes by drawing lines between them.  

With Lucidspark: Add blue virtual stickies to the board and add arrows to connect commands and events. Using Lucidspark keeps the board much cleaner than freehand drawing the event model. 

5. Look for aggregates

Now it’s time to identify if an existing system can be used or if one needs to be built. The aggregate receives a command and decides whether or not to act upon it. Don’t worry about naming the aggregate until later. 

In person: Group events and commands around aggregates, drawing a circle around them

With Lucidspark: The same as above, but you can use the circle tool to bind sticky notes within an aggregate

6. Add context

In person: Add additional sticky notes that clarify business processes, external systems, and other factors that influence or give context to the existing model.

With Lucidspark: Add comments or additional stickies to the board to add context to the model.

7. Wrap it up

In person: Take a picture of your event modeling board and send it to each participant after the workshop. You may even wish to store the butcher paper and sticky notes by rolling them up carefully. Obviously, this is a hassle, but it can be useful to revisit the workshop down the road.

With Lucidspark: Your session will automatically be stored to the cloud, so be sure to send an email out with a link so your participants can access the board at any time. You may also indicate tasks within the virtual board and assign them to participants after the meeting. 

Bonus tips for facilitators:

  • Ask questions. Don’t attempt to influence the model except to correct mistakes, but do feel free to ask clarifying questions throughout the workshop. 
  • Take breaks. This kind of in-depth thinking is tiring. You may want to run a 1-hour session, but you’ll likely find that an event storming workshop goes for 2 or 3 hours. However long, make sure that your participants are provided ample time to rest. They’ll need to eat something and give their minds time to digest the dilemma at hand.
  • Don’t forget next steps. Nothing is more frustrating than participating in a meeting, coming up with great ideas, and then having nothing actually happen. Identify tasks during the last thirty minutes of the workshop. The facilitator should then assign those tasks within a task management system or by email after the workshop.
event storming

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