One day in, I think, 2015 Paolo & I were walking along Tottenham Court Road engrossed in a discussion about how we kept finding the wrong people making technology development decisions and what we could do about it.
Put simply, the problem is how often business people with little or no technology experience make judgements about how easy, or difficult, it would be to implement some feature or other. Our experience was that their judgement is based on inappropriate house-building metaphors, inapplicable prior experience, or “gut feel”.
The result tended to be bad product/technology choices that would waste money and squander precious development resources without delivering anything of value to the business. Further, it would leave the business prone to “feature of the day” type interruptions further diffusing development priority and creating business risk.
From this was born the TCR Matrix:
Our insight was that it should be the responsibility of business leaders to decide the importance of any given feature to deliver on business goals and the responsibility of technology leaders to supply estimates of the difficulty of implementing features.
It seems obvious but, in practice, it often does not happen this way.
This leads to a decision about which quadrant any given feature lands in. The top right (important/difficult) is often where competitive advantage lives for technology companies. Such activities need to be well chosen with importance driven by a deep understanding of customer needs.
What also drops out of this discussion is where features land in the bottom right quadrant. The quadrant of “It’s difficult and nobody wants it, but we’re building it anyway!” It is essential that the business avoids wasting resources in this space since they are, inevitably, stealing from feature parity if not competitive advantage.
Using the TCR Matrix puts the right people in charge of making respective decisions about where precious develop resources should be focused. Further, we have found that Impact Mapping is a great vehicle for driving this kind of discussion.