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Innovation requires words: creating a product glossary

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In projects where innovation is taking place, new concepts and possibilities are in the air. Concepts evolve as the team dreams, discusses, designs and delivers working code as the project progresses. New product behaviors and characteristics emerge and change as the team gets feedback and learns more about what is really needed.

During this time of creative ferment it’s difficult to create a common understanding of these new concepts in the minds of the whole project team and key stakeholders. It can be hard to talk about new ideas (or agree on them) if you don’t have good words to hold these ideas. And those who come along later, both project team members and customers, need an on-ramp to the product’s unique capabilities and concepts. The answer:  living, evolving glossaries.

This innovation dynamic was at play after IBM Rational made the decision to develop a next-generation, collaborative requirements definition and management product as part of the Rational solution for collaborative lifecycle management.  You can read the story of our journey to create and evolve our terminology as a multidisciplinary team, first to bring to market Rational Requirements Composer, and more recently to extend it to address the needs of complex and embedded systems development in Rational DOORS Next Generation.

Innovation requires words: Creating a product glossary

In this article I explain how we became more sophisticated over time in the process we use to define terms and how the integrated glossary facilities in Rational Requirements Composer and DOORS Next Generation make the job easier — both for the team creating terms and the larger product group that uses them. This article refers to real artifacts we created in the course of our work. You can explore these artifacts on our Requirements Management self host here on

Daniel Moul
Senior Offering/Market Manager
Rational Offering Strategy and Delivery