First, let me belatedly acknowledge Luke Hohmann, who ranted eloquently about traditional requirements at his P-Camp session several days before I started this current screed. His observation was Hemingwayesque in its pithiness: "Requirements suck." Mine is more Faulkneresque, using an idiom ("stink on ice"), undoubtedly with a colorful origin that no one remembers.
The second reason why traditional requirements stink on ice is, ultimately, a question of perspective:
Development teams build technology for people who are wholly unlike themselves.
No team has the resources to live side-by-side with the people for whom they're building the technology. The users don't have the time or inclination, too.
Most development teams rarely interact with people on a different floor in the same building, so living side-by-side with the target users wouldn't be an automatic mechanism for osmotic transmission of insight.
Therefore, development teams generally view requirements in their own terms, and not the world as the end user sees it.
I've had to put blogging on the back burner for the last week because one research document, covering how product managers can use social media (blogs, Wikis, forums, etc.) as a new source of product requirements, underwent mutation, and then mitosis. Now, it's three separate documents, each of which demands all the empirical and stylistic discipline that Forrester demands. In short, I've been busy.
However, now that two of the three documents are drafted and in the capable hands of my research director, I need to vent. The target of my ire isn't the tribble-like spawning of new documents, which at the end of the day, is the right call, and has made the author much happier with the final product.
No, what's really churning in my guts is the inevitable outcome of talking to people about product requirements, writing about how to improve them, and re-visiting the topic during the editing process.
The results are in. And the collective effort of the four teams partipating in P&G's digital night sold 3,000 Loads of Hope t-shirts and raised $50,000 for charity. Tide actually matched the money raised, putting the total disaster relief donation to $100,000 for four hours of effort. Thank you to all who bought t-shirts!
So I got a golden ticket to P&G's digital hack night -- a P&G party to bring together social media experts, P&G digital minds, and experienced interactive marketers to share ideas. The event is to test the strength of digital media to try to generate $100,000 for charity.
Clearly there is a lot of passion and discussion about our latest research piece on sponsored conversations. But one thing is clear: whether you like it or not, sponsored conversation is happening and growing. I still believe that marketers have an opportunity to work with bloggers in an above board fashion under very specific conditions (transparency, authenticity, relevance, commitment and the addition of "no follow" links). I want to address two specific issues: Google "no follow" and Payola.