In modern software development, the scrum methodology is extremely popular and commonly found at many organizations.
While this methodology has proved very successful for some businesses, for others it offers a fixed structure that creates organizational problems that are not easily solved, such as burnout and lack of motivation.
The usual approach
A common scenario: a product owner spends time defining the requirements and then passes those to a designer who creates detailed mock ups of each feature and interaction. The end result is something very clear and detailed that is ready to hand off to a developer to size and build during upcoming sprints.
Inevitably the designer over designs some parts, under designs others, and the developers are left with a to-do list that doesn’t encourage communication or allow them room to ideate a better solution based on their expertise.
The result of all of this is either a) the team is in crunch mode often or b) deadlines are missed. So how do you define something that accomplishes the intended goals but is flexible enough to always be delivered on time without burning out the team?
You have to trust your team by creating clear goals with a negotiable end result.
Focusing on outcomes
The Shape Up methodology from Basecamp offers a wonderful solution to this in the form of Pitches. A pitch is similar to any other requirements document but focuses on clearly defined outcomes and not precise designs.
Pitches provide developers with clear outcomes to achieve while also giving them room to define how they get there. Not all developers are comfortable working this way but those who do will create incredible results.
Even with a Pitch your team may run out of time to deliver everything on the list. However the difference might be a single outcome that can be developed later (or not if it’s determined to not be important anymore). This is much better than delivering something half complete because it was built according to a list of tickets developed a la carte.
By creating negotiable end results your team can spend their time solving problems and creating valuable outcomes instead of trying to match a design or interaction pattern.