Try to Stick to the Problem and Describe it Well…

Try to Stick to the Problem and Describe it Well…

Posted on July 27, 2008 0 Comments

So far I have been sitting on the sidelines and following my blogger colleagues fairly regularly in an effort to understand (and agree or not) with their mindset, which blogging is ultimately meant to do.

However, I could not pass up the opportunity that my esteemed colleague and prolific blogger David Bressler has extended me in his post “On Roadmaps and Future Product Features…” (thanks for introducing me David!).

David’s stance on the question he raises, “What problem does a product strategy solve?”, is fundamental and one which I would like to build upon in my debut into blogging. 

What drove me was a very interesting experience I personally had last year during a seminar I was attending from Pragmatic Marketing Research; There was a small workshop-type exercise in the seminar whereby each attendee was invited to describe a customer problem situation that they had or were currently facing, which would have ultimately resulted in formalizing a requirement. Like many product managers, most of them (including me) came from an engineering background, with a very technologically driven perspective on problem-solving, especially in software.

As the exercise proceeded, most attendees took turns describing their customer situations with technologically rich details with a lot of insight on how to solve them. More often than not, I kept on hearing the instructor’s comment after each presenter:

"…but what is the problem that you are solving, never mind what technology you will use? ... don’t tell me how to solve the problem… describe me the problem you expect to have solved…"

This went on for several iterations. The one that stuck on my brain up to this point was:

"…describe the problem in such a way that your grandmother would understand…"

Although, in my opinion, it might be pushing it a bit for my grandma to understand problems that SOA is expected to solve, since then I have come to develop a true appreciation to simply and properly describing a problem. Once it is clearly understood, then technology (SOA or otherwise) can readily be applied in solving it and solving it well.

SOA What? In listening and hearing myriads of so-called requirements from the people in the field (customers, prospects and sales folks) all greatly in tune with SOA infrastructure themselves, it makes a lot of sense to take a step back--albeit for a minute--and examine what problem are we solving and describe it in a technology-agnostic way, as much as possible. Believe me, it not as easy as you might think…

Vasco Kollokiam

View all posts from Vasco Kollokiam on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.


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