01 October 2013

The inherent problem of ‘locking down’ product requirements.

Many managers, in a struggle to accomplish completion of projects insist that product requirements be locked down prior to the process of solutioning. Often this is a symptom of a disconnect between product management and design. 

Locking down requirements moves a problem from one that is complicated... to one that is either complex or merely simple. It reduces the variable nature of problem solving from one of multiple solutions to the potential of a ‘right’ solution. But, it does that using unreal or arbitrary constraints. Things change. Our understandings change. And the ‘locking down’ of product requirements ignores that. It isolates the definition of the problem we are trying to solve to an instance... an instance that may pass us by as a mere blip on the path we travel.

I’ve been quoted as saying that, “locking down product requirements is lazy management”... and I stand by that. Reducing the problem to a non changing situation, and reducing our solutions to a stagnant state of understanding reduces out ability to solve the problem optimally. It changes the entire focus from finding the best solution, to getting the job done. That, is not an optimal compromise.