In a world of Agile, Lean and Scrums its easy to lose your true value as a Product Designer; the role becoming focused on what’s technically being delivered this week or next. It’s more strategic than that; at its core, you’re a lighthouse guiding your team on what to build next by illuminating the path.
But everyone knows what we are building
Even in those cases where the Product Manager can articulate it, or the developers claim to understand it, the value of having that vision visualised is immeasurable.
Just as everyone may be able to visualise a version of the Sistine Chapel in their head, only a handful of people could translate it into reality. The same is true of a teams vision, everyone may think they can see what you hope to build, but only a few people can visually manifest it so everyone knows what they’re hoping to build.
But I need to deliver on what’s being built now
Focusing on delivering what’s being built now is precisely why you need to dedicate so much time to it. By only focusing on what’s being built now you’re causing uncertainty about the future.
Your team then becomes more uncertain about what they’re working on now, and how it fits in with the wider vision. You then need to spend all your efforts delivering what is currently being built, fleshing out every eventuality in an attempt to combat that uncertainty. Resulting in you feeling like you can’t spend time on the end goal.
If you instead give focus to the longer term goal you combat that uncertainty at its root. As you focus on painting the broader picture; fleshing out the context for each solution everyone starts to understand not only whats next, but how that fits into the larger product.
Those finer details you’re so often spending your time creating can then be filled in as and when they are needed, as those around you are better equipped to make the right decisions. The cycle then continues, no longer required to second guess every eventuality, you’re free to focus even more time on your teams future as you and them become more certain about your shared direction.
But It’ll just change
It will, and it should. Putting the effort in once and leaving it will cause more harm than good, introducing more confusion as the goals change. Not doing it at all means you’ll never know if the direction is right until it’s too late.
It’s not just about direction though, the best solutions are those that have been worked on continuously and refined through many iterations. Only looking at the product holistically once or even just focusing on a small chunk at a time will make unequivocally worse than if you focus on refining it as a whole.
So stop putting all your time and effort into the next thing that’s being delivered. Do something of real value; help your team understand why its being delivered and how it works into the grander vision of what they’re creating.