Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lessons learned from WoW: Showing Progress

There's clear progress markers on your way to the bank.

There's also a ready dashboard of your progress.

Think about it.

Let's say you get a small refund from your local office supply store for that latest thingamabob that you just bought. Let's also say you have a chance over your lunch hour at work to run the check to the bank. Let's also say, just for fun, that you're NOT going to drive.

How would you know you're making progress on your way to the bank? What if you haven't been to this branch before (perhaps the job is new)?

You would

  • look for indicators
  • watch for changes in the landscape
  • recognize the landmarks from the path you researched
  • see things changing around you

    All of these are positives. Now, what if it's raining out? Would that change how you measured your progress?

    And how would you tell your wife/sister/lover/brother/kid/boss/coworker that you had made progress, if they called you while you were walking? To someone who isn't familiar with your methods, ways, speed(s), knowledge, how would you communicate clearly how close/far you are to/from the bank?

    I think, if you're like most people, you would try to make the abstract concrete by wrapping your progress in artificial numbers. Meaningless, really, since that branch could be closed for remodeling this week, and your *actual* progress is really much smaller. While we're not getting into scope creep in this entry, how do you communicate your progress?

    In WoW, the presentation format (3-d PC graphics rendered in a 2-d screen) allows for graphical progress representation. How could you do that for your walk to the bank? There are some ways, actually.

    However, what if it were more complex than just a walk to the bank? What if it were showing progress on your Software Development project, across teams, divisions, and software versions? How would you show the same progress?

    Would you treat it as a walk to the bank?