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Modular Memory

An essential part of the session memory is the process record, a log of the discussions and decisions made by the group (Doyle and Strauss 1982). The idea of keeping process records is probably new to most software development groups, but it has been a part of meeting management for decades. In creating a process record, new scribes tend to fall into one of two traps. Either they try to write down everything as if they were taking dictation, or they wait until the group reaches some conclusion and just summarize. For technical teamwork, a “he-said/she-said” kind of record is neither necessary nor ideal. A good process record keeps track of key events along the way to an outcome, especially the alternatives considered, decisions made, and arguments presented. These are essential contributors to group learning and may be invaluable when it comes time for a project “post mortem” or design review.

For software development, a continuous and unstructured process record is not ideal. Some categories of information are so commonly generated by development teams working in collaborative sessions that they warrant separate recording for special attention. It is useful to keep a “do-list” for noting those things that come up in discussions but are not acted on right away. This alone can justify the frustration of keeping session records because it can save projects from those embarrassing oversights that tend to show up in systems integration or after product shipment. “Oops, I thought we took care of that dangling pointer problem!”


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