Tuesday, October 06, 2009

idea: the LRD (life requirements document)

In one of my first posts here I wrote about the importance of writing the MRD first. It's amazing to think that was almost four years ago. Gosh I'm long-winded.

Recently I've come to appreciate that there's a document that must be written prior to the MRD.

It has nothing to do with your market, your products, or your company. It has everything to do with you.

I can't take credit for this - my wife made it clear to me that I needed to write down "what I wanted" if I was going to conduct a successful search, whether it was for consulting clients or a full-time gig.

"If you're such a hot-shot product manager, Bob, where are your requirements? Have you written down what you want, what's important to you, and what you will and won't accept? I think I recall someone saying 'if it's not written down it's not real' so get busy."

And so was born the LRD, or "life requirements document".

My headings are values, work (vocation), work (avocation), family, location, priorities, outcomes and challenges. Your headings will be your headings. Like the MRD, it is a living document.

I'm sure there are folks out there who are very adept at the "writing down of goals" part of this thing. But what I think is illuminating was the idea of treating it like a PM document, and as a private precursor to the MRD.

So where the MRD helps you understand:

Who are we selling this product to?
How are we going to sell this product?
What is the competitive landscape we're selling into?
What are the sizes of our buyer segments?

The LRD helps you understand:

What sorts of problems are you interested in solving?
What sort of customers are you interested in helping?
What markets are interesting to you?
What sort of people do you want to work with?
What motivates you?
What will make you feel like you've "won"?
What constraints do you need to work around?
What other activities do you need to pursue to make you feel "complete"?
What gaps exist in your capabilities that you must address or can safely ignore?

I could go on like this for a while, but you get the idea.

I've written a lot of MRDs for products and customers that frankly I wasn't all that interested in. Maybe it's a function of age, experience and scar tissue, but I am very focused today on making meaning, not just money.

If you're staring down the barrel of another development adventure and wondering what your life has come to, perhaps a little time spent writing your own requirements would help you understand whether or not you're doing work that is going to meet those requirements.


Chris Cummings said...

I don't usually like to post "ditto" comments or "love it!" comments. But I just really like the thoughts in this post. Answering these kinds of questions can help make decisions in your life - maybe, not easier, but at least rooted in something you can understand and believe in.

Todd Wyder said...

Bob,great article. I have always found that the best way to achieve success is to focus on something one can be really passionate about. Then, success is contagious.

Tim Johnson said...

There was seminal book (for me, anyway) from the 80's called, "Go Hire Yourself an Employer" that used similar techniques to help people craft a career view and a functional resume.

The tenets, for me, have evolved into answering two questions in order to get the product marketing process kicked off: "Who cares and why is that important to them?" It only stands to reason that turning the same process on yourself is how you are going to be happy and successful - and that you know what "done" looks like.

Great post. Thanks.