Monday, April 11, 2016

The Awakening: Improved Discussions on Features

Something really interesting has happened, and I wish I knew what caused it. My team feels more courageous, more active in taking a stand about design of features and we do so much better!

This started happening around the time we started Mob Programming together, so I would attribute practical, hands-on work around fun and laughter has a lot to do with the increased courage. We also started discussing more about our values and what we'd consider our role to be, encouraging initiative, so the explicit asking for this might also be a contributing factor.

The ideas of what needs to be improved are now constant. The discussions around concerns of our designs are now shared. And it's rewarding to see how those discussions morph the features we're implementing.

There's been three very different yet similar experiences recently.

The first one is a lesson about power of mockups with business users, in understanding if we are building the right thing without building it. Things where the users have found it hard to contribute early on, we're now getting actual discussions around use cases. A user experience specialist has added some of the needed focus in that area, taking developers into the discussions too.

The second one is a lesson about power of conversations. We identified a need, and two opposing views to approach it. The first idea seemed implementation/risk-intensive, so we analyzed the second seemingly easy option to learn it was implementation/risk-intensive on a different, more under the hood way. Connecting the lessons learned from the two, a third option emerged. Something that was never on the table without my hands-on pairing session with a real customer, but something that seemed blatantly obvious after understanding how our customers use was different from our own use.

The third one is a lesson about initiation. We've found many places, most recently today, with relics of old ideas of how the software is supposed to be extended that never turned reality. Instead, they create complexities and places of errors. These come out actively, as people are working on the areas.

Where there might have been a feeling of unability to do anything about these before, now there's hope. And the hope gets stronger through the shared actions we're taking.

Experiencing the awakening from within is wonderful. I love seeing how developers take on the full potential they have in creating great products. And looking at this reminds me on how fragile this is, how the environment focused on separation of roles could again take us back to past.