A Sense of Where You Are: Another annoying essay on design process

When I asked PMs how long it would typically take to “do mocks,” the answer was a week or two. On the face of it, that didn’t seem unreasonable. Designers were generally turning around complete sets of mocks that quickly, even for complex products. But the data showed that our typical time from “Assign designer to project” to “Agreed mocks” was about 6 to 8 weeks.
Figuring out where this slip was happening, and why, required a little more detective work.
The curse of ‘almost done’
I started doing detailed observations of teams that were in the early stages of design. I attended their weekly cross-functional team meeting and watched how they were trying to come to agreement. The process would start out OK. People would define what they wanted, and things would get designed.
But when the team started talking about the designs, unexpected problems and arguments would arise. Differences around small details would become huge issues. Team members would go round and round in circles until someone would see a solution that was close enough to what they wanted and try to shut down discussion so they could get that option built.