Design is what you do every time you think of an action to mitigate a risk. And Big Design Up Front is where you do a lot of it in one go, for example:
Compare with “little” design, where we consider just the next requirement, or the most pressing risk.
Although it’s fallen out of favour in Agile methodologies, there are benefits to doing this sometimes.
As we saw in Meet Reality, “Navigating the Risk Landscape”, meant going from a position of high risk, to a position of lower risk. Agile Design is much like Gradient Descent: each day, one small step after another downwards in risk on the Risk Landscape.
In these cases, you have to widen your horizon and look at where you want to go: and this is the process of design. You’re not necessarily now taking steps on the Risk Landscape, but imagining a place on the Risk Landscape where you want to be, and checking it against your Internal Model for validity.
The feedback loop for any design is Review and Sign Off.
By allowing lots of stakeholders to review and agree to a design, or select from alternatives, we try to reconcile the needs of lots of stakeholders early on in a project.
To allow for discussion and understanding of the project between multiple parties. This may extend to design being marketing material to help explain the project to potential clients or budget-holders.
To ensure an overall aesthetic or architectural integrity, avoiding the Technical-Debt that you might accrue by building the wrong things first.
Often, by thinking big-picture we can avoid building components that seem like a good next step, but actually aren’t.
Building architects appreciate that their plans might change: Roman ruins might be discovered underneath the site, or the supporting wall might not be as sound as originally thought. The more effort you put into a design, the more will be wasted if it’s wrong. So, how deep should you go? The answer as usual, is keep designing while it is reducing your overall project risk.
Everyone has a great plan until they get hit in the nose - Mike Tyson Fail to plan and you plan to fail - Eisenhower?
Risk-First design example ; building the research indexer
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