The wrong focus

Recently I have been thinking about what design means in general. Over the last couple of years, software design has had a revolution, with focus shifting from testing the limits of what is possible to figuring what what is needed and making that possible. Looking at that trend, I think that it is indicative of a culture where things have been iterated over enough that the excitement has stopped coming from the technical feasibility of things and more to usefulness.

I have taken this trend and I am currently applying it to how I work. Instead of getting excited about the challenging technical problems that I encounter from time to time, I am instead choosing to focus on the essence of what I am delivering and what value I am providing.

A little while ago my team and I wrote a dashboard to track and display some telemetry and while we accomplished all that we meant to and surfaced all the data that we had promised, I think the value was lost. We never spent enough time trying to figure out what the real purpose of the data being displayed was. If we had asked that, while we would have stuck with pretty much the same data, we would have represented it in a very different manner.

The lesson from this is, always check your compass while you row