I was chatting with an old colleague the other day; he was describing a company that he has been doing some work with. In it, every time employees identified an problem their response was to look at how their processes and procedures needed improving in order to stop that problem happening again. Oh dear we lamented; not only is that not a fun organisation to work in, but they literally become ossified by rules and regulations.
How much better it is when such an organisation has a really positive culture. Then the employees don’t need lots of rules to define what they do and don’t do because the culture makes it clear what their objectives should be (e.g. “ensure customer satisfaction”) and how to resolve any problems (e.g. “we just get on the phone and figure out how to solve it together”).
Carl Knibbs recently wrote a post “Communicating Your Product Vision” about the importance high-definition visuals in getting product vision across. In it he wrote, as an aside; “I am less and less convinced by long lists of requirements”.
That made me think how those long lists of requirements are like the rules in a broken corporate culture; if it is clear to people what they are trying to achieve and how they should work to that end, there is no need for them.
So how do we paint that vision of our new product? Well Carl is dead right that visuals certainly help and are a focus for discussion. Add clear personas of believable customers that you can talk about, and some convincing stories of what their situations and needs are. I’d add photos that might stimulate thought and discussion. Given all that, we should not have to define every requirement in immense detail because the overall objectives are clear and smart employees will figure out how best to fulfill them. Maybe they’ll do so better than we would.