Enough of the debates about requirements and what we call them. Why don’t we just hire great developers and empower them to work directly with the customers?
Danc, at Lost Garden has an article that asks just this question, and addresses the challenges of directly empowering developers.
A couple quotes to set the tone of their article:
What would happen if the developers possessed a deep understanding of their customers needs and desires? Suddenly, those thousand little decisions aren’t introducing random noise into the product. Instead, they are pushing the product forward.
One philosophy is that we need better specs and those damned monkeys need to implement the specs exactly as designed. Better command and control system and more rigorous process is obviously the trick to success. This tends to generate poor results.
Getting Closer To The Customer
Danc offers these tips to help the developers get closer to their customers:
- Use your own product
- Onsite customers
- Observe customers using your product
- Hire psychologists and ethnologists to study your customers
- Listen to lead users
- Reduce feedback cycle time
- Improve objectivity of results
- Improve clarity of results
The only inconsistent point in his article seems to be the suggestion about using ethnologists. Don’t they present a barrier to developers in the same way that a product manager would by synthesizing and prioritizing “the voice of the customer?”
Freeing developers from a job where they are coding “to spec” will definitely empower the developers. I believe that having someone trained in prioritization and interpretation of needs (a product manager, for example) can help keep the team aligned on the important stuff by providing insight into what is important. This is the same argument for having “experts” interpret customer behaviors.
Check it out.