Vision ownership

July 5 2010

as developers, we try to find solutions where problems arise, ideas to get customer gain value from our systems. as eXtreme Programmers, we then try to do this driven by simplicity, communication and feedback. the smarter we are, to more satistied the customers become. but there’s always something strictly domain-dependent, no easy to see being a cunsultant.

that’s where a good product manager comes in.

I’ve been playing with search facilities provided by CMS platform we’re developing on, two days or so: rich fulltext search, simple search component, even custom low-level queries, but neither of them were good enough to support (not-so) complex scenarios given. so, I started focusing on getting simpler searches done, vertically splitting stories, even horizontally on technical-axes (like delaying result pagination). but this keep-on-cutting process left me with almost empty hands.

simple search delivered, asked PM for feedback: it tooks her 30 seconds to say “let’s move to (internal) search engine”. period.

of course, it does make sense, now. but no one in my team came with this idea, focused on solving problem at hand. and yes, it’s “easier” for us because we’re asking someone else, from customer’s internal staff, to work on custom search profiles, while we’re focusing on UI and search integration. what’s important, anyway, is product integrity: something hard to come with.

what’s the morale? quoting Dan North’s Perils of estimation:

The business started out by defining success as solving the problem, but now we have redefined success as delivering this list of stories.

he then goes further, with this evergreen:

Firstly the business wants accuracy and we’re giving them precision. If you tell me it will take 4.632 months and it takes 8 months, that’s worse than useless. If you tell me it takes “about six months” and it takes seven months, I should still be onto a winner.

estimation helps plan a project, stories define business goals “tokens” we gain every week: but ultimate goal still is satisfying customer needs (asking for feeback and showing working software), not collecting those tokens while on a project journey.

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