Have the wrong team mix.
Many teams have missing players or the roles assigned are not understood. Great products need balanced input from at least three perspectives: (IT, Product Mgmt, and Stakeholders). Often a 4th
perspective is required: Usability. Usability runs the middle ground between product management and IT to ensure the stakeholders can use the delivered solution. Without the right mix, a natural imbalance will occur and a technology-centered solution will often emerge along with high training and support costs. Even if balance exists, the short-term nature of today’s products often results in a lack of vision. If a visionary is brought into the mix, the team immediately pushes back in fear of putting their pre-determined project deadlines in jeopardy. Unfortunately, the team may meet their project release date but miss the mark on solving the true business issues or capitalizing on a new business opportunity.
Solution: Build the right team or acquire skills to fill the gaps.
A ‘usability person’ often has very different skills than an interaction designer. Usability people find defects and interaction designers create solutions. Consider your team lucky if you have one person who can do both. Business analysts often fill the role of a product manager but may not fully understand what drives revenue. A product manager may have the vision but may lack the skills or political influence to bridge the gap between stakeholders and IT. Bring in a person with vision to help really solve the key issues and the political clout to bring about change. The visionary sees where the end-game needs to be played whereas the IT group often needs to stay focused on the next release in order to keep their sanity and meet deadlines. Create a project roadmap so all parties see where the product is going and how it will get there via the iterative process. Avoid myopic thinking.
Jeff Hawkins , the inventor of the original Palm demonstrated his vision recently with the recently released Treo 600 . After he met with users in New York he had a clear vision on user needs and had the team stop mid-stream on PDA design and refocus their efforts on a combined Palm, Phone and Blackberry. After much resistance, the team got clear on the vision and now has a market leading product.