The Framing of the Developer | svese

Source: The Framing of the Developer | svese, by Stephan Schmidt

“In the social sciences, framing comprises a set of concepts and theoretical perspectives on how individuals, groups, and societies, organize, perceive, and communicate about reality.” Wikipedia

Framing is intentionally and unintentionally used in discussions and environments. A frame shapes the discussion and makes some things thinkable and some other things unthinkable. Frames have friends that go with them.

We have a dominant frame in development. Software development as a “backlog”. Features are put in a backlog by a product manager – the product owner – and by different departments. According to the Cambridge dictionary a backlog is “a large number of things that you should have done before and must do now”. The word backlog makes you think you are always behind finishing things. The frame says: Finishing means success. If we work from the backlog, we’ll have success. If we complete all the things I as a product owner have in my vision, we will have success.

Companies today need a frame of impact. In this world view success is defined by impact. Do product and technology develop products and features that have impact? Impact means impact for the company and impact for the customers. For the company this feature, or product moves the needle. For customers it changes their behavior.

The impact frame helps to focus on the important things. If success is defined by throughput and finishing a backlog, the more things you do the more successful you are – which leads to many features developed that are not important to customers. Backlog success is input driven product development. It focuses on the input. Impact development is outcome driven. It focuses on outcome. … This means we need to do things that have impact and no longer focus on things that have no impact. … Failure is when we don’t have impact. In this frame it becomes crucial to choose things that have impact and not work on things that do not have impact. It is key to throw away most of the ideas you have and only stick with the very few that will change your customer or the market. … Also throw out ideas that are already in development. You’ve put time, energy and money into something and learned that it will not have impact? Stop! Throw it out.