What to do when your vision hits the buffers of reality

You have a vision that is pretty clear to the technical team and you’re all working towards that goal. The business has bought into the vision previously and they’ve given you the mandate to work on the vision and goal. The next thing that is bound to happen is that the market direction changes or market research shows some different problems that need solving.

This is the classic friction that happens between the short term focus and the long term strategy. The business sees the need for something now, and they want you to supply it, taking away valuable resources away from delivering the vision. This happens a lot, and if you haven’t got the structure in place that short term product enhancements can be handled then this is going to have a huge impact on your ability to deliver the strategic pieces that everyone says they need.

So, what happens if the sales guys just have a thought in their head about what they want to offer, they haven’t done anything in terms of fleshing out what they want to sell to the customers; all they know is that we need to have a few buzzwords in the high level sales description. They don’t have a clear idea of what kind of data they want to capture for the new API based, big data platform because they haven’t spoken to any of the data providers, and data consumers that would be interacting with the data. Typically the buzzwords are likely to involve platform, big data, API-based.

You have to try and get involved at this stage, and steer them down to a proposition that isn’t so far along from the next steps to your vision. Right now, you’ve already started work internally around making some of the moving parts microservice API based; with some reference applications to validate your architecture and understanding. This is a perfect time for you to showcase those applications internally; push back onto the sales guys to give you a definitive statement about the type of data they want to capture, and to start working on some throw-away reference applications that they can use to further validate their own understanding.

This isn’t a massive deviation from your current goals; the business can see that you’re actively trying to help, rather than sitting in your “ivory tower” making toasters talk to fridges just because you can (I have had exactly this comment come out of a CEO). This is, after all, the goal of the agile development methodology; being able to react quickly to requirement changes, and delivering the long term goals on a iterative basis.

originally posted on medium

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