How many of you know deep down that the team is working on something that no customer wants?
That’s a brutal setup from Gandalf Hudlow:
Picture this: your team is under immense pressure to crank out a new software project. The daily stand-up is mostly about reporting that the code will be checked in by sprint end. The team’s nights, weekends and family time are sacrificed to get this super important project to Done™. The new code is delivered by the Date™, it’s unstable but nobody knows that because the testing is mostly happy path anyway, don’t get me wrong, people do test it and they do find bugs – I mean, they don’t find things like low frequency of occurrence crashes, slow-but-important memory leaks, race conditions and poor performance under load – but they do find enough bugs that everyone is lulled into a false sense of safety. The project completes and success is declared! Then nothing happens. For months. No news of customers. No field bug reports. Complete radio silence. You forget all about the project, and you never hear of it again.
Kinda makes me sick to my stomach to think of all these highly talented people out there building things they just know are useless.
The solution Gandalf gets to:
The product managers are performing market research to figure out where to find the customers. The sales staff are developing those customers for the coming product. The engineers are working on discovering and implementing the best solution. The team discloses their value attempts at the daily stand-up. The sales staff share newly found customers likes and dislikes. The product managers share new places customers can be found in the market. The engineers share what they have discovered about the best solution to service those newly discovered markets and customer likes/dislikes.
All this makes me think of Just Enough Research by Erika Hall.
Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. Done well, it will save your team time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.