It starts innocently enough… an exec asks: ”Shouldn’t our product do X?”
Why, yes! Of course it should.
It’s not a bad idea, and on the surface it doesn’t seem like a heavy lift to build. So the team starts talking about the new feature in our standup meeting (product owner, developers, dev manager, and me – the UX person).
After kicking the idea around for a bit we have a pretty good understanding of the issue and how we might solve it. Then someone on the team asks, ”How hard is that?” You know where this leads. The implication is if it’s easy to build, we should just do it.
Of course we skipped some important questions, like:
Before we knew it, our team had invested 15 minutes × 6 people on this new thing that we might not even do. Meanwhile, we’re already scrambling to finish the work we’ve already committed up to do. Easy isn’t the same as free.
Luckily we caught ourselves. Some people like to talk about little requests as being death by a thousand paper cuts but I prefer work is work. Why?
So, when you find your team hit with requests out of left field, don’t just ask:
…remind yourselves that work is work.
It’s not that small things aren’t important – most products are a collection of small experiences, and consistently ignoring small refinements in favor of new features can lead to a disaster of a product. So, this isn’t a call to ignore those small things, but to appropriately value them, because they take work too.