Cohesive Design by Committee
Most of today’s product design shortcomings can be linked to disparate objectives caused by a lack of communication among the teams that mold a product.
Each group in the product circle has its own set of priorities, and therein lies the problem. Marketing wants to increase leads and brand perception. Product managers seek to be on time and in budget. Manufacturers focus on avoiding defects, and so on. This is supposed to create a great product. According to Peter Merholz, founding partner and president of Adaptive Path, this actually causes one or more of these sticky situations:
1. Design by committee: “In an effort to achieve consensus, innovative impulses are dampened.”
2. Design by accretion: “Products are cobbled together in a serial fashion, each department contributing without regard to what the other groups are doing.”
3. Design by gauntlet: “Projects are subject to so many approval processes that they are often stalled before shipping.”
A better product management option is a system in which product managers, marketers, designers, engineers, and user advocates work closely on a single project. Ideally, products should be passed back and forth between groups in order to create a cohesive, well-designed product or service.