Have you described how to build the thing, or just why it's a great idea?

In preparation for a client project, you’ve identified a problem worth solving, and you’ve got a great idea for how to solve it. There’s a meeting set with the engineering team to start building things out, and you’re excited to get started. Let’s have a look at your artifacts: your slide deck, or pitch, or spreadsheet, or tickets, or whatever.

Do you describe why the thing is a great idea? Look for charts with an axis labeled “users” or “money” or some other metric that goes up and to right. Got it. If this is your first time meeting with the folks involved, or if the decision to actually build the thing hasn’t been made yet, this is totally reasonable! It’s great to get people excited. And it’s great to ensure people will back your idea with resources if you haven’t already got a commitment.

But it’s not enough to actually build the thing. And, if this is something that’s already been sold, you’re selling past the close. Don’t do that.

If you’re handing your builders a bulleted list of feature ideas, or a sales pitch, but not a description of how the thing is built from top to bottom, you’re asking them to do your job for you–not just to build the thing, but to do the footwork of figuring out what the thing is, and how the plumbing comes together, and unearthing any hidden assumptions you’ve made along the way that might blow up in their faces. They might be perfectly capable of doing that, but it’s not their job, and if they’re on a typical builder’s schedule, you’re going to blow up their metrics for cycles to come if you ask them to just get started.

Getting technical input into your artifacts is a great idea. The time to do that is before you tell people to go build your thing.

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