We were dealing with a plan that had become a little too complex, a little too cumbersome during the design process. The CEO shared a story about what he and his product development group do when their design process culminates in a product that is just too ... clunky. They step back and ask the question:
What is mission critical for this product?
This leads to a conversation about the core purpose of the product, what essential problem it is being created to solve. Too often, the design process leads to a pile-on of extra features. Hey, as long as we're adding that, why don't we put this in as well? And wouldn't it be cool if it could also do these things?
Before you know it, it's bye-bye elegant and simple design, hello clunk.
As the CEO noted, once you return to an agreement about what is mission critical about the product, you can use that agreement to guide you in peeling away the extra, non-critical design elements and drill down to the core product features.
A great analogy and I knew immediately that he had hit this particular nail right on the head. I directed us back to the opening of our presentation where we had summarized the plan objectives. Over time and through a process that involved input from a number of constituents, our plan objective list had grown long. Too long. (Really, as I had reinforced for me here, more than three objectives for any plan will almost always put you at risk for problems.) Could we develop a plan to do all these things? Of course -- and we did. The question is, could the plan really do all those things well AND provide a clear, engaging experience for those who participated in it? Probably not.
And so, we went back to defining our critical mission.
Got a design clunk story of your own to share?
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting to a range of client organizations. Ann and fellow Compensation Café writers, Margaret O’Hanlon and Dan Walter will soon be releasing a new book on communicating compensation - stay posted! Ann serves as President of the Twin Cities Compensation Network (the most awesome local reward network on the planet) and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Compensation & Benefits Review. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, is a foodie and bookhound in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons photo "3D Bullseye" courtesy of www.stockmonkeys.com