What’s one of the most controversial concepts I’ve come across in Product Development?
For me, one of the most controversial concepts that I have encountered in product development, particularly in the software world, could be seen as challenging stereotypes in the world of product development. However, after many years of experience in this field, I know that my answer to this question holds true.
You might be surprised to hear that it’s the notion that developers, especially in the software world, should talk directly to customers. 🗣️💻
Yes, the question of whether developers should talk to customers could be seen as contentious! 😮💨 After all, developers are smart, articulate people.
And the notion of letting developers, in particular coders, talk to customers just doesn’t work in the practical world.
Understanding the Developer Stereotype
There’s a prevalent stereotype in our industry suggesting that developers can’t talk to people – this belief baffles me. These smart, articulate professionals are often seen as unsuitable for customer interactions.
So, why not challenge that assumption?
After all, developers have daily interactions with each other and have relationships outside of work. Therefore, it stands to reason that they can indeed communicate!
The question isn’t whether developers can talk to customers; it’s whether you want to allow them to.
So, why the resistance? 🤔
More often than not, this decision usually comes down to a few concerns:
- They may be awkward or clunky in conversation
- They may struggle to articulate in a language the customer understands
- They may take longer to communicate
It’s true that developers may initially have these issues around talking to customers. However, let’s think about the potential benefits.
Traditional Approach vs. Direct Conversation
While this method can be effective, it relies on secondhand information. This approach can inadvertently lead to misinterpretation and slow down the development process. 📝
At first, this might seem messy or confusing. But, as practice breeds experience, it will become more effective. 🎯
But what if we encourage direct conversations between developers and stakeholders?
Here are just a few benefits of direct conversation
1. Real-Time Clarification: Developers can ask questions on the spot, leading to immediate, accurate information.
2. Efficiency: By skipping the back-and-forth, we save time and energy.
3. Improved Understanding: Developers can challenge their assumptions and increase their understanding directly from the source.
This approach is not about getting rid of business analysts. Instead, it’s about expanding the definition of a developer to someone who actively contributes to creating a product.
By facilitating direct conversation, we can foster better collaboration and understanding between all parties involved.
Doesn’t that sound more productive and effective?
This is the type of collaboration we should strive for in Agile product development. After all, the overall goal is to eliminate any misunderstandings, which is human nature. Having stakeholders, developers, business analysts and customers in the same room conversing a way forward and strategies can be brainstormed together and more quickly.
This strategy of people coming together means that the developers are involved and actually hearing the questions and possible solutions. It’s more efficient and effective if the developers hear it first-hand. 🎯
I want to wrap up this debate with a simple analogy and perhaps take some time to think about it:
“If you decide to have a shower one morning and a pipe bursts, would you want to talk to someone who can talk to someone about how to fix it, or do you want the plumber to turn up and solve your problem directly?”
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And for those interested in delving deeper into Agile and Scrum, I invite you to check out my courses. They will provide valuable insights that will help you implement effective Agile practices in your team. 🎯📚