They Don’t Always Have To Use Your App

If your app is for a team of users, don’t focus on the app nor the users. Focus on not impeding their interactions. Don’t forget they can talk to each other and think on their own without your app !

If your app is for a team of users, don’t focus on the app nor the user. Focus on not impeding their interactions. Don’t forget they don’t need your app to talk together. They are already doing it. Worst : don’t try to replace live interaction with electronic processes. It’s best for them and cheaper for you.

It was a shiny day of July, the meeting was 3 hours long. The goal ? Prioritizing, specifying and poker planning the next sprint. We made the mistake of scheduling it right after a 8 hour meeting with our key users (sort of day-long presentation/feedback of our latest monthly release). Now we were embarking on the next sprint. We were exhausted and really focused on details.

Examining story after story, we were fighting to make them all fit in the sprint. First mistake.

Second mistake : focusing too much on each story at a time. Loosing the big picture.

The third mistake needs a little back story.

Our application’s goal is to help people who already work closely together to do so with a tablet. They already talk to each other, they are trained to work together. They work this way since 1933 at least.

The user stories were about helping the team leader to distribute roles in his crew. Simple in appearance…

It’s was a nightmare of story dependencies, complex vague specifications, really expensive features.

Why ? We forgot the people the leader has to manage are physically  in the room during the use of the feature. Hence all controls, feedback, error-prone specifications we were trying to establish were useless.

Simply by TALKING to each other, the users could work together. We forgot that since the begging. Focusing more and more on the new tool we were building, we forgot the primary human tool : talking.

We saved our velocity and the project budget. But the danger is still around. Don’t forget the most basic human skills instead of trying to replace them all in one app.