Friday, June 18, 2010

Pivot. Communicate.

It's been a long week. Starbucks finally announced my main project. I've been juggling calls with both India and California, taking care of the dog-in-law, and not sleeping much.

We're building a new kind of web UI on top of a lot of complicated technology platforms (location detection, a content management system, etc.). It's a fun change from my last two prducts (Yahoo! Toolbar and My Yahoo!), which both required engineering rebuilds of existing products with big audiences. We're working with great design teams - both external and in house - and are building something very, very pretty. Given where we are in the project, a few posts seemed really relevant.

On Tuesday Chris Dixon wrote a great post on Pivoting. He talks about the "Bridge over the River Kwai" problem, where entrepreneurs fall so in love with their engineering project that they lose site of the bigger mission. I've seen the same thing with engineering managers, product managers, and designers. Frequently. The only solution is to keep asking why and to listen to the answers. When you inevitably screw up because the product guys misheard the engineering manager, or the engineers misunderstood the designers, remember to solve the problem with better communication – not longer specifications! Overly-detailed specifications are usually a sign that something is very, very wrong with your approach to building software.

That's all. Time to crank through the rest of Friday before retiring to my deck with a book and a pillow.

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