A case for prototyping over theorizing
Big room, several people and lots of opinions. There’s coffee, maybe snacks and a presentation is ready to roll.
Someone had the idea to assemble this group to discuss this new project.
The issue is: this is the 5th meeting. No real result to show so far.
So far, the client has tried no beta version, no prototype, nor an early sketch. Zero. Nada.
So far, the client had no chance to point out what he does not like or what does not work for him.
So far, the only thing that came out were opinions and hypotheses. No real life results.
Planning is NOT the same as doing
A project sets out to solve a problem. Be it improving or creating a process, developing new software, construction work, whatever.
In this context, it becomes obvious that planning is part of the process and needs to be performed well so the project succeeds.
But how do you know you are ready to move on?
How to avoid talking instead of doing?
The question that moves you forward: Can we prototype this?
At any point in the planning process, you will have ideas of what could be done, and doubts on whether it should be done one way or another.
At this stage, there is an easy way to discover whether you are ready to stop–temporarily–the theorizing and get your hands dirty. Ask the question:
“Knowing what we know now, can we prototype this?”
If the answer is yes then go ahead! Build a quick and dirty version of the current idea and show it to a real client or user.
Let them tell you what is right and what is wrong about it.
Then you will be—finally—well informed about your progress and your assumptions.
If the answer is no, then you need to be careful. Sometimes, you are very early in the process and you don’t have enough material to go ahead and build something yet. Fine.
But most of the times, a No comes simply from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being polished enough. Fear of being wrong.
All of these are fine.
But this is exactly the phase you want to fail. When no one—or few—are actually looking.
So, can we prototype this and try in real life? 🙂
Ps. In real life it doesn’t really matter if you call this scrum, sprint, elephant or rainbows. The important part is doing it 🙂