Optimizing Your Project for Learning
I’m going to go over three options you know — Waterfall, Alpha/Beta and Lean Startup, and one you may not know, but should — Learning Milestones. This should give you a good idea on where you are with respect to learning.
Waterfall (the best practice when I got started in tech in the 1990s) splits the project neatly into stages, each performed assembly-line-like by a different team — a pure attempt at execution optimization. Putting aside all the issues with waterfall (primarily that it doesn’t work), from a pure learning perspective it is seriously sub-optimal:
- The product definition phase is supposed to encompass all the research needed to define the product in full, months, sometimes years, before the product ships. In reality, with no product to test on, very little actual learning happens here. Most of the “requirements” are created based on ”market research”, opinions and consensus and are then rushed over to the development team to meet the schedule.