Technologists: Please Stop asking for requirements 😎

I think you’re a genius! You found this blog and your reading it – what more evidence do I need?! So why do you keep asking others to think for you?

There is a harmful bias built into most technology projects that assumes “the customer knows best” and this is simply a lie. The customer will know what works and what doesn’t when you give them a product; but thats not the same as being able to give specification/requirements. Sadly, somehow technologists have been relegated to order takers that are unable to make decisions or move forwards without detailed requirements. I disagree.

In general, everyone (including technologists) should fixate on understanding your customers, collaborating across all disciplines, testing ideas with customers, making decisions and executing. If you get it wrong, learn, get feedback, fix issues, then rinse and repeat. If you are going through a one way door or making a big call; then by all means validate. But don’t forget that your a genius and you work with other geniuses. So stop asking for requirements, switch your brain on and show off your unfiltered genius. You may even meet requirements that your customers haven’t even dreamt of! 

Many corporate technology teams are unable to operate without an analyst to gather, collate and serve up pages of requirements. This learnt helplessness is problematic. There are definitely times, especially on complex projects where analysts working together with technologists can create more focus and speed up product development. But there is also a balance to be found in that a technology teams should feel confident to ideate solutions themselves.

Finally, one of the biggest causes for large delays on technology workstreams is the lack of challenge around requirements. If your customer wants an edge case feature that’s extremely difficult to do; then you should consider delaying it or even not doing it. Try to find a way around complex requirements, develop other features or evolve the feature to something that is deliverable. Never get bogged down on a requirement that will sink your project. You should always have way more features than you can ever deliver, so if you deliver everything your customer wanted there is an argument to say this is wasteful and indulgent. You will also be constantly disappointed when your customer changes their minds!

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