Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2009-01-03

What they really want


It is now a little more than six month since our trip to Disney World and Orlando and it's fun to see what little Peter (then 3,5 years old) recalls from the experience. Here is a top-six-list:

1. The car was huge. We are used to Swedish cars. This car was big compared with the other cars in Orlando.

2. The swimming pool. For Peter, a hotel is still somewhere you go and there is a hot swimming pool. We realized this during a stay at a City hotel this December. It was not at all what he expected and it took some time before we realized that for him a hotel is the yellow house with the very warm swimming pool.

3. The large and scary figures. He was scared of all of them. Too big. He was kind of close to Buzz but the rest were avoided.

4. The Toontown, including Mimi's kitchen with almost all the things in it and that Mickey had gloves in his drawer.

5. The racing cars at Magic Kingdom. On site we rode them about 15 times. If that is enough.

6. They burnt cars at Universal studios. We had to leave the show because he was so angry and he still gets upset when he talks about it.

These are things Peter can bring up on his own, without us asking so I think they give a pretty good idea of what made an impact on him. When I went to Disney World I had no idea that these were the things he would remember or have these emotions around. Yes, I know he was a couple of years too young but I thought he would love meeting Mickey and Buzz Lightyear. Instead he loved the car. By why would I think that he would love seeing these large figures? Why did I assume that he would like the stunt shows? Well, the simple answer is that I assumed that a small boy would like them.

I wonder how many vacations becomes failures because people makes assumptions about their children's preferences and then are upset when the kids don't appreciate what they get.

These types of assumptions about other people's preferences are also made all the time when developing software. We assume that we know what they want. Perhaps we assume they value the same things we value. Perhaps we have an image of what "that type of person prefers".

Agility is the way to go; having a chance to change is the only way to handle assumptions. I had to rethink my visit to Disney World when I came there and realized what Peter wanted. Shorter visits to the parks, taking the rides he loved over and over and skipping the rest. Long pauses with ice cream and toys.

Letting actual users TEST software during the process instead of SHOWING them when it's all set and done. It is not the same if you handle the software and they sit beside you. They need to be in charge of the device and software they're testing.

And most importantly; don't get angry because you were wrong. Instead see that you've learnt something new about your kid or your users.

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