Projects need routines
On projects, we define a routine as a combination of tasks or activities that foster better habits and behaviors over time, which results in the design and development of more meaningful experiences for people. So, for projects:

What are the routines that exist today?

What routines deserve more attention and practice?

We have identified certain helpful project routines and observed that teams rarely practice them with any rigor and typically fail to think about them during project planning or when bringing together a project team.

Most of the time, project team members get stuck in an implementation routine that leaves them little time or attention for the other routines that we’ll discuss.

In the next posts, we will share our draft list of project routines with you, and we’d be very interested in knowing what other routines you’ve observed on projects.

We’re also open to reconsidering our use of the word routine, as we try to identify the right language to communicate these ideas.

We’re not entirely sure routine is the best word to describe what we’re talking about. It’s important to note—in the spirit of holistic and connected thinking—that these routines need not progress alone; some work best in parallel streams. Some of these routines do not yet exist on any projects.

As an owner and facilitator of these routines it is necessary to ensure that we work them into our projects, that we practice them as we iterate designs and that people get the time necessary to improve their skill sets relating to their roles.

Exploring courses of action
In exploring courses of action, the team experiments with and introduces change to social, technical, and business systems that exist in the world today. This routine focuses on determining or adjusting innovative means of achieving, promoting, or delivering new solutions.

  • implement — In this routine, a team is heads down, trying to get solutions out the door, and does not have much time for any other routines. There is little time to plan.
  • experiment — A team plays with a number of options and employs user stories in talking about goals, issues, improvements, and outcomes, as well as in assessing what options to aggregate into positive outcomes going forward.
  • explore outside worlds — A team leaves the comfort of their project room to go out and observe their customers’ world. This helps them to look beyond single, stand-alone features to holistic design solutions and map features to contexts of use—whether known or unknown.