The Empathetic Phase of Developing Product

Yesterday I had a designer come in and say "Nate I don't feel like this is my best work. We have made so many decisions to punt on great designs"

This got me to thinking about the empathic side of design and development.  Don't get this confused with the empathetic design process. This approach is being emotionally aware to your design and development team while they are in a sprint. 

I have created a harsh form in Balsamiq of the development cycle from my perspective. The first column is directed discovery.  The second column is the building process. The third column is something called "on-boarding or soft presenting". The fourth is full ship and release to customers. 

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Another example I really like is to envision a home being built.  The first stage is architectural drawings (directed discovery), the second is stick framing, sheet rock, paint etc... (the build), third is an agent walking around the home describing important areas to me and my family (on-boarding). 

What I want to focus on is the second column.  There are many trade-off decisions that happen during the building process.  This is where most of  "are we making the right decisions" conversations start to manifest themselves.  Having an open mind and heart to these types of emotions is critical.   Our designer is correct to have these thoughts. In fact it inspired the team to have a design review early to gut check many of the decisions we have made.   It questions the development team, the product team and pushes the designers to gain perspective over the entire project. 

What it did for me was remind me that I need to increase the communication and understanding about where the project is today, tomorrow, and why we as a team have made these decisions.  Its actually nice when moments like this arise.  I get to reflect on the personalities I have on the team and the way others like to be communicated to. Some may need a little more focus time to help understand what this process is all about.  

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Finally, I mentioned daily stand up.  Stand up is gathering of sorts around a Kanban board every morning. The entire team is expected to be there to report and the previous days progress.   If you have not given this a shot you should.  It creates a fun lively environment.  What seems to be the biggest benefit of this gathering is not only the Kanban board but it connects the remote or working from home employee's to the development process.  If there is a daily scheduled overlap of the team it has strengthened our ability to more effect during work hours.