Hats as a Service: Enhancing Systems Analysis and Requirement Gathering (2/2)

“Hats as a Service” relies on the basic insight that each stakeholder has valid input in the system analysis process. Please note, that I am using this phase here to make a focused case for this approach.


In 1985 professor Eduard De Bono published his book “Six Thinking Hats”, and introduced to the world a new system of improving thinking processes, group conversations and analysis of situations. 32 years later, his system still proves its merits. In this article, I present an enhancement, that combines the current “[Everything] as a Service” concept and the “Six Things Hats” system, and creating a powerful strategy for discovering additional vantage points in complex systems.

 “Hats as a Service” relies on the basic insight that each stakeholder has valid input in the system analysis process. Please note, that I am using this phase here to make a focused case for this approach. You can extrapolate it to other phases, in the full life cycle, and scale it as needed, adjusting to the team. My view is that each complex system (and they are all complex) is actually a system of systems. Meaning, a composite of sub-systems. Thus, each stakeholder, even if he/she is part of a sub-system, contributes to, and is responsible for, the success of the complex one as well.

Before we dive into examples and usability, here are a few basic principles that you are requested to adhere to:

 – Ask with intent to listen.

 – Do not judge the participant’s input.

 – Humble yourself to become a subject-matter-expert of learning over a subject-matter-expert of IT/Process/Finance etc. Participants already recognize your expertise; now they want to share their own.

Hats as a Service – Enhancing DevOps Storytelling

The original DevOps Storytelling format is: As a <role/Function>, I would like to <action/goal/desire> so that <benefit>.

This format works, but with two potential caveats:

1.      It can create the assumption that decisions have already been made

2.      Sometimes it creates vague stories.

Here is how I use the HaaS method to discover new angles in an interview, and dig much deeper to achieve a better understanding of the system being explored. By building a better Story Map I create a better project plan.

Example: “As an accountant, I want the expense request to arrive electronically so I can find it anytime.”

Here is how I overlay the Six Thinking Hats system onto the Hat as a Service system in this simple scenario:

White [Data/Facts]

  • Original: Which accounting platform and accessories (hardware/software) do you currently use?
  • HaaS: Since the goal is data gathering, I might keep the question as is. Other times, I actually reach out to the helpdesk team and ask what all the accessories are (software and hardware) that the Accounting department relies on.
  • Benefits: Each person knows their immediate tools, but might not be aware of others’. Usually, the Helpdesk team supports all and knows the more complete inventory of gadgetry.

Red [Emotions / Feelings]

  • Original: What frustrates you in the current process?
  • HaaS: As a submitter, what is the most convenient method to submit?
  • Benefits: People will perceive their own side, especially their pain and frustration. However, I am forcing here a view from another perspective and making sure to query using positive words. Sometimes, others’ convenience equates to our frustration, and we need to design a solution that has only benefits, and no hurdles/impediments.

Black [Discernment / Judgement]

  • Original: What potential threats can damage the solution ecosystem?
  • HaaS: As a potential adversary, what are the critical points in the process and how severe are the threats? Also, ask the Facilities/Operations departments what is the cost to change infrastructure to fit a new solution.
  • Benefits: IT will gladly configure the Firewall, install the antivirus and develop code to prevent SQL injection and check for standard inputs. However, only the accountant will consider the potential threat of embezzlement when there is only one person in control, should the request now arrive just electronically.

Yellow [Optimism]

  • Original: How much faster will it be?
  • HaaS: As a Senior Manager, what will be an acceptable return on investment?
  • Benefits: It’s all great to invest a lot of money and have a shiny new tool that is only a little bit faster and simpler for the accounting department. But, asking this question forces the accountant to justify if it is worth it, and if not, which efficiencies can be created to better justify the expense.

Green [Creativity]

  • Original: What is the craziest idea that will help you the most with the process, even if we need to rebuild it from scratch?
  • HaaS: [Usually I don’t change this question, but for the sake of the example…] As a young (Millennial) new employee, what is the best new approach for this process?
  • Benefits: It doesn’t hurt to create a bit of generational rivalry to encourage thinking, while keeping my hands clean. 😊 I remind others that young people are already in the workforce and they influence with their ideas and needs as much as veteran staff. 

Blue [Management of process]

Omitted intentionally.

Using the “Hats as a Service” tool, I have demonstrated how it can assist in two situations/use cases. I hope you find it beneficial to your DevOps processes.

Please share your thoughts, insights, ideas, experiences and suggestions regarding this method.


I write to share my experiences and insights and to encourage knowledge sharing. You are invited to share your thoughts and insights in the comments.

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