#NoOthers interactions

The classical interaction between people supposed to work together on a product (marketing, product management, software development management, developers, designers, etc.) is driven by requirements. The usual (implicit) process is then

  1. I identify a problem I need to solve for doing my job (better)
  2. I identify things I would need to solve this problem
  3. I identify people around me who could provide me the things I need
  4. I require them – namely the others –  to give me those things. Depending on my hierarchical position this part could be more or less easy…
  5. I collect others’interpretation of what I required
  6. I try to solve my problem with those things, and blame the others for not giving me what I required

Typical things I might require here are precise specifications, prioritized user stories, overall goal, estimates, cost, deadline, etc.

The main concern with this approach is inherent in the concept of others :

  • although I might think I know what I need, my understanding is limited to the things I know, to my own domain, and thus I might not be aware of what others know.
  • others are not very likely to understand what exactly I need, leading to a very incomplete solution.

My suggestion is to turn this interaction process upside-down :

  1. I identify a problem I need to solve for doing my job (better)
  2. I publicly expose my problem to the team : no others here
  3. Some of my teammates propose me things they can give me that would be relevant to solve my problem, according to their own knowledge and their own domain
  4. I collect what my teammates gave me
  5. I try to use those things to solve my problem, and improve collectively to a solution.

Some benefits of using this approach :

  • My teammates understand my job better
  • Non-obvious solutions might emerge
  • Nobody feels like they are working for nothing, or losing their time

A very naive example now, to make things clearer : My job consists in hammering nails. For each kind of claw there is a kind of hammer that I get from my blacksmith. One day I am facing big difficulties with a new kind of claw.

  • Classical interaction : I go to my blacksmith’s and ask him to make a bigger hammer.
  • No-others interaction : I go to my blacksmith’s and show him the new kind of claw. He suggests me to use a screwdriver!

Of course this is all very theoretical, so any comments would be appreciated.

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