Weeknote 3 — MVPs, fatigue, and emotional crutches

Work milestone, Armando Ianucci, and social interaction

Work

We hit a milestone in our project at work. We call it an ‘MVP’ and like all ‘minimum viable products’ it isn’t really. It’s more of a ‘more baked than a prototype but not baked enough to charge customers’ but MBTAPBNBETCC is more of a mouthful than MVP, I guess.

In our case the task has been to take what we’ve learned from our research and prototyping and figure out how to turn that into an app. Which involves figuring out a balance between what we can implement and what we’ve discovered in our research.

Which is hard enough but then you add a third point to the triangle: the feature list that marketing research has identified as being important to sell the app on release. And you kind of need to be able to sell the app if you want to keep making it.

There isn’t necessarily much of a crossover between the features marketing wants and the features product research identifies as important. And there’s the unfortunate possibility that some of those features may even conflict.

And, of course, ‘features’ is a very poor lens for thinking about product design. It’s how it works as a whole that matters and breaking a design down into features is the opposite of thinking about it holistically.

So, we’ve put together what we call an MVP. In the process we have formed a much clearer idea for what the final product should look like. The MVP might not give testers an accurate idea of that final product but it’s cleared the picture a lot for us.

Books and Media

Last week was very hectic. (See ‘work’ above.) This didn’t leave me with much emotional energy to read. Did get around to reading one of Loretta Chase’s, which I enjoyed.

I also re-read parts of Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things. I was actually quite surprised at how much of it is still ingrained in my thinking even though it’s been almost two decades since I read it last.

I finally watched Armando Iannucci’s Death of Stalin which was great. I’m a long term fan of Ianucci’s so it isn’t entirely surprising that I’d love his latest work.

Photography

I resorted to photography as a coping strategy this week as I used to be wont to do. In the past I frequently used photography as a tactic to keep myself involved in social events that I was having a hard time either dealing with or keeping focus on.

Which wasn’t entirely healthy—having many of your personal relationships largely mediated through a camera lens is pretty goddamned dysfunctional, to be honest. So I stopped a few years ago, took a bit of a pause, and let myself rediscover the the drive and purpose of my photography slowly over time.

This week I was at a work event and could feel myself disengaging and decided to pull out my camera. The pictures came out tolerably and helped me feel more useful than otherwise. But it was still a crutch. It wasn’t a creative act but a mechanism for abstracting social interactions onto a flat pane where I can deal with them easier.

I guess sometimes you have to let yourself use a crutch if you feel like you need it. That’s okay.