Steve Robinson asks Peter Bell founder of SpeakGeek, Agile coach, and former SVP of Engineering at General Assembly, how to build relevant software efficiently. Is the answer to kill all the product owners?

Some developers are 10 times more productive – not because they type faster, but because they make better decisions about what to build.

How can developers stand up and take more responsibility for product decisions?
1. When someone gives you a requirement, first ask why – what people give you is
often not a requirement, but a badly-formulated solution to their requirement.
2. After you’ve started building something and find it’s not working, don’t just start
re-writing, but ask how else you can solve the problem with less engineering effort.

As a developer, how can you pull yourself out of the rabbit hole?
If you’re working as an individual, take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes or so to ask yourself, “Is this working? Have I been productive?” Don’t do anything substantive during the break, so as not to break flow – get a drink of water, take a bathroom break, stretch. With pair programming, it’s easier to pull out of the rabbit hole.

Recommended resources:
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries provides a good way of thinking about product, but doesn’t talk about HOW to do it.
Running Lean by Ash Maurya describes how you how to develop software in highly uncertain spaces.

For those interested in finding out more about Peter and his work at SpeakGeek, please sign up at his website SpeakGeek.

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