Any fans of Guns N’ Roses will have heard the expression “not in this lifetime”.
For those who don’t know, it was what lead singer Axl Rose said when asked if the original members would ever get back together. In the last year, most of the original band have reformed, mended fences, etc – the tour is also called “not in this lifetime”.
You may be thinking, what has this got to do with software?
Well, after the initial excitement of one of the best rock bands ever getting back together- it made me think. People change. That may seem very obvious, but if it’s so obvious, then why do we still develop software with the idea that people stay the same?
We make these massive plans for software, big promises, big specs. Sure, it will take two years to develop- nothing can possibly change, right? If everything works out two years later, the customer gets a completed functional product. But what if at this point the software is out of date or they have already changed their minds? They are human after all.
Would it not make more sense to embrace the idea of change? Cut out the middle man, remove the spec and replace it with a conversation.
Agree on the smallest possible solution and let the customer play with it as soon as possible; doing this you will learn exactly what they want, and also build trust with them.
This means that if a feature is going to take a little longer, they will see it evolve as it’s built and be aware of where their money is going. With this trust and positive experience, they are also more likely to come back to you next time they need something built and recommend you to other potential customers.
Start with something small and give it a go, you will be surprised what you learn! Maybe next time you are asked to write up a large scale spec you can respond with;
“Not in this lifetime”.