Rachel Folz

People, product, and process pro.

Personas Help Solve Product Problems

Okay, picture it, there’s an enhancement needed to a feature. The customer wants the moon, the CEO wants the stars, and the engineering team wants a picture of the ground next to the building. 

There are so many competing priorities and big voices screaming at the table. It’s up to you, the product team, to balance all of these expectations. Even under these conditions, things can still go pretty smoothly and you can create something that satisifes all parties.

But what if you don’t fully understand the problem? Or the solution is eluding you? Or you can’t build consensus? Or the technical requirements aren’t lining up with engineering resources? Or there’s a lot of mid-stream adjustments? Well, those are just the right conditions for my least favorite gruesome twosome to show up – Scope Creep Carl and Screen Creep Cindy.

I would ask if you’ve met, but if you work in product or design you have, but you may not have caught their names. 

Scope Creep Carl loves to take up space. He said he wanted help moving a TV. But when you show up, he’s got a U-Haul truck outside. Did he forget to mention the TV needs to move to Nebraska? Carl loves to make simple things more complicated. His influence grows like an invasive ivy over any project you let him touch.

Scope Creep Carl by Nick Folz

Sometimes Carl is alone, but other times he’s joined by Screen Creep Cindy. Let me back up – screen creep is when you have more screens to hand off to Dev than is really, actually necessary. It adds complexity in the interest of design control but shuts down agency and flexibility for engineers. 

Okay, so here comes Cindy. She’s carrying a bag from Chipotle. She said she just wanted a little sour cream, and by that she meant ALL OF IT. She’s back fresh from her vacation at an off-brand Sandals Resort for Jimmy Buffet fans called “Clogs.” She can’t wait to suck all the air out of the room.

Screen Creep Cindy by Nick Folz

No matter how good you and your team are, these two will show up from time to time. They make projects take more time, cost more resources, and have less impact.

So when the presense of either of these two is felt on a project, my team is empowered to say, “Here comes Carl…” or, “That smells like Cindy.” It gives us a low friction way to call out what’s preventing us from solving the problem instead of tossing barbs about overreach.

This can help us return to the big work of delivering value without hurting feelings. Carl and Cindy hate it when that happens.