I have always loved the Monty Python sketch in the operating theatre where one of the surgeons says ‘I want the machine that goes ping’. He is only happy once it is in the corner of the room pinging away.
In the digital world the same phrase could be ‘I want the shiny’.
What is the ‘shiny’?
The shiny is the web page/site/application that is relatively quick to build and not too expensive that puts a nice and no doubt improved skin on an existing service.
The typical sequence is to choose an ‘easy’ target of a poorly functioning service; run an Agile project; do lots of user workshops; spin up some web pages; Alpha; Beta etc. The end result is a nice feature that users like and generates some good feedback. Cue some pats on the back; presentations and repeat. Plus there is a new shiny.
So what’s the problem?
Exactly, what was the real problem? Was it the skin that was changed; or the underlying infrastructure/process? Was anything done about the later? Probably not. Why not? Well that is a bit more of a challenge involving often some complicated moving parts; multiple organisations and legacy systems. Who wants to work on a project that will clearly take many months or years; why not go for the ‘shiny’ quick win, take the money and run.
An interesting conflict arises when an organisation actually wants to look at the deeper longer term problems but externally it is put under pressure to do the shiny.
So if you are working on a digital project you might want to ask yourself ‘am working on a shiny? Or if you are a commissioner ‘am I asking for a shiny’? Go on be honest….