The theater tasks that add value

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2023-09-19 08:30:04

Throughout my career I’ve been drilled to “have a customer-first mindset”. I have written user stories, done user testing, measured customer impact, and had managers challenging me on what the “customer value” is of what I am working on. This has had a very big impact on me and how I approach all technical work

The thing is, not all work impacts the customer. In fact, if you work for a company your long-term goal is to satisfy the business owners, usually through profit. This means that there is a lot more work than satisfying a customer. There is a reason why we talk about stakeholders. That’s because they can take many forms: A Head of Security, a CEO, an employee, a CTO, a supplier, a CFO, a customer, an architect, an auditor, etc. Identifying a stakeholder for work is really important. It means that you have someone who can explain why something needs to be done, and let you know that the work is completed with satisfaction.

Sometimes I have had work delegated to me that is presented or looks like “customer-impacting”, but when poking around to understand the objective of the initiative, I struggle to see the immediate customer benefit. It’s made me question why we are doing the work - making it feel like it’s a waste of our time. The problem is I have been equating “stakeholder” with “customer” when the real stakeholder hasn’t clearly communicated.

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