, Xavier Bertels

Why you’re wasting time building your digital product

If we want to improve the way our Belgian tech companies work, we need to start taking the discovery phase seriously. Delivery without discovery is why you’re wasting time. It’s the equivalent of a chef asking to pass the onions, and then a random guy runs off to go buy one.

I’ll make this specific: if an organisation works in some form of a 2-week sprint, and doesn’t do any discovery, it means they need to solve hard business problems as part of the sprint. And your team already has so many other hard back-end and front-end things to figure out.

This results in people figuring out business problems during backlog grooming sessions (or worse, during the sprint) and it’s why you hate those sessions; you didn’t have a proper discovery phase.

It’s not possible to figure out the business problem and build a polished (part of) a product in a two or three week sprint. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gather input when doing discovery. It does explain why you have no idea what to do with the one designer on your team.

It’s because they do work together with the product manager. They help visualize something they can bring to the next backlog session and at the same time help create a coherent UI within the current sprint. We should acknowledge and separate those two spheres of work.

There are many theories around this. In practice, we just need to embrace the idea that backlog grooming is much smoother if you have a clear concept of what it is you’re going to build next. Bonus points if that is valuable to your business and that of your customers.

Xavier Bertels

About the author:

Xavier Bertels is a designer and managing partner at Mono, where he helps companies deliver simple, useful & beautiful digital products. He tweets as @xavez.

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