I strongly believe having solid "Definition of Done" is critical at a wide variety of occasions, including not only at business but for our personal life, but it's underappreciated in practice.
First, life is short, and we cannot do everything we would like. Hence, it is important for us to define a finish line by ourselves in terms of our entire life, year, month, week, and day. Otherwise, we will never get a sense of accomplishment, and we can easily miss what matters most. Although finding key factors that define an ultimate goal is not straightforward, thinking of our personal identities could be a reasonable first step to determine a high-level direction; personal identity depicts what the most important things for our life are, and such a north star metric naturally enables us to prioritize/assess the things in front of us.
Secondly, when it comes to product development, product managers should be responsible for defining a clear goal of product and leading engineers/designers with a strong ownership while sitting side by side and communicating closely with them, as well as customers. However, it rarely happens as far as I'm aware of. Design, technology, and science are essentially based on continuous effort of tiny improvements; if you gave an ambiguous goal/timeline and vague vision, they could spend an infinite amount of time.
Or, if you were a designer, engineer, or data scientist, it would be important to keep questioning yourselves as "Am I doing the right thing on the right path?". Being conscious about what we are creating and where we are heading to is a key first step toward ethical product development. The consciousness associated with "Definition of Done" ultimately brings not only a sense of accomplishment but also success of the product that your customers love.
No matter what you're doing, there must always be an area of improvement in our life and job. Therefore, setting a lower/upper bound to how we use our precious time is an absolutely necessary step. I've learned this point in painful ways over the last few years, and my recent reading of "Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most" reminds me of the point; Greg McKeown's long-time best book "Essentialism" was about what to do, and the follow-up book tells us how to do in a minimalistic and essential way. This is also where the idea of radical simplicity could intervene.
What defines the end of your life? How will your project/product look like at the end of the day?
- "Why Do We Build This?" Humane Technologist's View of Bad Product/Project
- Ethical Product Developer
- Hi Product Managers, Are You Creating Products That *You* Love?
Last updated: 2022-05-23
Author: Takuya Kitazawa
Takuya Kitazawa is a freelance software developer, minimalistic traveler, ultralight hiker & runner, and craft beer enthusiast. With a decade of experience at start-up companies and Big Tech ranging from full-stack/machine-learning engineering to data science to product management, I am currently working at the intersection of technological and social aspects of data-driven applications. See CV for more information.Support by donation Gift a cup of coffee
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