On systems of work and design

  
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Getting sprint estimation right is the kind of headscratcher product management twitter fusses over on the daily, but while we can’t agree on the nitty gritty we imagine the same u/dystopia. Behind one door, deadlines* evaporate in favor of inspired predictions based on sane systems of work established organically by solid [design] principles and a light hand. Behind the other, a developer mill.

Both are modular agile blooms optimized for their hosts. A symbiotic relationship of system and culture. One welcomes the operational data like an omen, looking for signs of a flood so that it can move to higher ground; the other utters bullshit like “the sprint estimate is a contract.”

As a community we focus so intently on systematizing the craft both to adapt to the growing pains of scale and — I think — to legitimize our next rung on the career ladder — design systems, design ops, research ops, service blueprints, etc. — that we must strain to remember that systems, like algorithms, embody the biases of their creators.

The system is a tool. You wouldn’t fawn so over a hammer.

Craft virtuously.

*| When I ported Stoic Designer from MailChimp, the migration missed a few of the early-birds, like “The Deadline is Arbitrary.” I 👏 have 👏 feelings 👏 about 👏 deadlines. Anyway, I’ll copy it over soon with a touch-up and audio version.


Liking (❤) this issue of Stoic Designer is a super way to brighten my day. It helps signal to the great algorithms in the sky that this writeup is worth a few minutes of your day.

Stoic Designer is also now a podcast. You should be able to find it on your podcatcher of choice in the next day or two.

Remember that design is not art, but a practice.

Michael Schofield