How to stop useless arguments, and make better decisions

A simple technique that will improve your decision making, execution, and team communication

Image for post
Image for post
stop useless arguments, and make better decisions

The reason you need a method to do task analysis

At Soluto we work in teams that include at least a developer, UX designer, and product manager.
Once a task is selected from the team’s backlog, the first step is Analysis. The problem was that the output of the analysis phase wasn’t properly defined, so we didn’t know what’s expected of us during this phase. We found ourselves in all sorts of unwanted situations. Examples of such situations:

  • Misalignment (=A LOT of discussions and arguments) between the person defining the task (usually the PM), and the person working on it (usually DEV or UX). This can be around the timeline, chosen solution, who are the users, implementation effort, price, etc…
    And since you asked - No, a more detailed specification document didn’t solve this problem.
    It didn’t solve the fact that there will always be a gap between the person writing the spec and the person working on the task, there’s always a grey area.
  • We found ourselves repeating questions when someone shared how they plan to move forward with a task: Did you talk with X? Will it require a lot of maintenance? What other solutions have you thought about? How does Google/Netflix/Facebook/etc. solve this?
    Repeating questions isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a good sign you can automate things, identify issues earlier, and waste less time.
  • Technical tasks for which the PM (that’s me) knew less than the developer working on the task. While they worked together to define the task it didn’t make sense to waste this time, the DEV could’ve moved faster without the PM getting in her way.
  • Team member made technical decisions, which they only later realized affected the UX of the product, without involving the team’s UX and PM.
  • Analysis of tasks dragged on and on, since there was no defined end.

Our ideal solution

We wanted a solution that would:

  1. Increase the likelihood of us shipping valuable features to our users and business, without wasting time effort.
  2. Align us around what we want to accomplish and how everyone (=users/company/team) will benefit from it.
  3. The solution must not slow us down.

🥁 Presenting the Taking a Task (or Analysis Output) technique 👏🏼

The output of the analysis phase should be a discussion (written/f2f/other) that covers the points below, the owner of the task should arrive at the discussion at least with an opinion (and reasoning behind it) for the points below:

  1. Who are we solving it for? Who’s the target audience?
  2. What are the main factors in judging the solution?
  3. What solutions did you think about and which one do you recommend and why? (we expect people to have an opinion on what’s the best next step).

Example

What is the problem we’re solving?

As part of our effort to enable teams to release experiences quickly and in high quality we believe that teams should get frequent and timely feedback of their features performance.

Who are we solving it for?

Teams in the company that contribute features to our Web Platform, specifically for DEVs of these teams.

What are the main factors in judging the solution?

Based on research and interviews we did, we believe the most important factors for providing teams with logs and alerts are:

  1. Integration with Asurion SSO.
  2. Security considerations
  3. Low maintenance

Compare at least 2 solutions (and state your preference!)

Based on the above we compared two possible solutions (see table below), and think that the best way forward is Solution A, because…

Open the discussion

“What do you think? Am I on the right track? Did I miss anything?”

Side effects

We’ve been using this technique in a number of teams for quite a while now and the reactions are pretty positive.

“Analyzing my task using this tool forced me to think about various pitfalls I will meet along the way, and make sure I will avoid them entirely instead of finding my way out of them.”

Want to get started? Here’s a template you can use.

Soluto by asurion

Engineering. Product. UX. Culture.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store