Hacking Iteration: Rehydrating Your Wetware

Recently I wrote about a technique for gathering requirements as a group. The technique is called rehydration and involves a very short meeting every day for 5 days. The idea is that the people in the meeting actually think about the meeting topic during the entire 5 days, not just the one hour each day.

The basic idea is to get the group thinking together over multiple days. Each short meeting constitutes a rehydration event. Such as event refreshes the neural pathways of your wetware (your brain). When a group of people execute on this kind of thinking together, the result is a substantially higher level of group cognition.

My friend Dave Logan wrote about this about a year ago. I was just up on his Facebook and I found this link:

The Single Best Time Management Tip Ever

your brain is brilliant at running processes in the background, but is awful at multitasking. While you’re driving to work, in the shower or answering email, your brain will be working in the background on the task, so that when you’re ready, it’ll drain through your fingers, into your computer or notepad, for about 20 minutes. The break allows your brain to restock the supply of brilliance. Each time you go through the process is a “productivity unit.”

This idea of a short burst of front-of-mind focus followed by a break that is much longer (and used for back-of-mind thinking) is a super-powerful technique for doing sense-making with a group of people.

The technique is really very simple:

1. Gather the group with the collective intelligence to make sense of the problem (example: the definition of software requirements)

2. Schedule a 1-hour meeting for each day for at least 4 days

This is a special form of iteration, where the break is much, much longer than the iteration itself. Use Rehydration when you need to make sense of something very complex with a group of people.