Designer’s Field Guide

How Product Development Works Best

When design, business and technology define product strategy together as partners, success is a certain outcome.

Tim Sheiner
Designer’s Field Guide
2 min readNov 14, 2017


Photo by Jens Behrmann on Unsplash

First of all, my definition of product development working:

1. Build great products

2. Everyone involved has fun doing it.

How do you do this?

A partnership of business, design and engineering.

The partnership has 2 rules:

A partner can require either an outcome or a schedule from another partner. One or the other, never both at the same time.

A partner may not ever, under any circumstances, require a process of another partner.

The partners collaborate on the product like this:

Business owns the value model.

Design owns the interaction model.

Engineering owns the data model.

Everyone owns the object model.*

*I explain these models in Co-Designing the Digital Machine.

Each production cycle, the partners pass the initiative from one to another in the same order every time:

Design drives discovery & validation.

Business drives scheduling & priority.

Engineering drives production & quality.

Picture it like this:

Or, as a function of time, like this:

Once the partnership is rolling, you monitor performance like this:

Each partner creates a performance metric against which he expects to be held accountable by the other partners.

Together, the partners create a performance metric against which they expect to be held accountable by those who depend upon the success of the partnership.

That is how product development works best.



Tim Sheiner
Designer’s Field Guide

System thinker, story teller, designer, husband, father of 3, San Franciscan, Bernal Heights neighbor