Saturday, December 04, 2010

Rely On Design Principles Rather Than Slave Over Useless Accuracy

When a product team wants to create a product, there are two approaches. The first approach is for a product manager to slave for months to write elaborate and detailed specs and hand over these uselessly accurate specs to the product development team and hope that they will appreciate the intent, understand the requirements, read the details and develop the product. From experience, we know that this approach fails more often than not. Product managers and developers end up quarreling with each other, bargain with each other and grudgingly accept realities and slowly but steadily become skeptical of each other.

The second approach is to establish a common schema for the team and then write compact stories or simple prototypes that convey the core requirements to designers and developers. The development team members who receive a compact set of stories will rely on a commonly understood schema, which is a set of design principles, to elaborate the compact stories into full fledged requirements and then turn them into products. The important thing to note here is that the people who make the product are given the responsibility to come up with ideas to realize the product.

In large organizations, a design thinking team outside of the regular product teams can take the key responsibility of creating and evangelizing this schema with all the product teams.

At my work place, we have a product design team lead by @MChewD. His team of design thinkers and practitioners have constructed a common schema with core design principles. They evangelize the schema via workshops to my design and development colleagues.

This makes my job as a product designer and product manager a delightful one. I get to focus on the core requirements, convey compact yet clear needs to my colleagues and rely on the brilliance of my design and development colleagues to pour their creativity to turn my requirements into tangible products. Along the way they enrich my intent with hundreds of their ideas and surprise me with things that I never imagined. I get to avoid useless accuracy and focus on the things that create incredible value for my customers.

This is possible because we rely on a commonly understood schema rather than useless accuracy.
Try this approach. I am sure  you will find it useful.

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