We often hear product development engineers debate the idea of “just do it” versus “slow and methodical”. The “just do it” group espouses the idea that as soon as you think of an idea, you should start designing circuits, laying out the PCB and hacking out software. The “slow and methodical” group advocates the do it right the first time by careful analysis and planning.
Both are right!
How can they both be right? The methodology used to develop a product depends on what kind of product is being developed and why it is being developed. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages and these characteristics play out differently in different types of product development projects.
The just do it method is going to arrive at a prototype much faster than the slow and methodical method. However, a prototype is not necessarily a product. For example, the prototype may not be able to be manufactured for a cost that would generate a profit; or it may be missing a necessary requirement to meet market acceptance. It is also unlikely to be documented and is likely not optimized for features, usability, etc.
The slow and methodical method will take longer and will likely cost more to develop – at least to the prototype stage. However, there is more certainty that you have a product that can be produced and sold for a profit and one that will be competitive.
The foregoing are two ends of a continuum, and most projects fall somewhere between the just do it and slow and methodical.
Lean startups, who are not yet exactly sure what the market wants, are better served with the “just do it”.
Mature markets that have certainty about what the market wants are better served with the slow and methodical method. Making a one-off product – just do it. Trying to position a product in between two highly competitive market segments, better take the slow and methodical route. Want to test a product idea at the next trade show – just do it. Reliability key to product success – slow and methodical.
Of course, even with the just do it method, it is always a good idea to spend at least some time on each of the product development steps. Skipping steps almost always leads to mistakes. If you need proper documentation templates, take a look at our tools