Tim’s team had given him a list of suggestions and ideas describing how the software should evolve. But he was struck by the way they had all chosen different ways to answer his questions. And he was lost in how to organize his thoughts with the feedback they had given him.
He had assumed, that he could ask questions, take the answers and get to work.
He indeed had to get to work, but not as planned. He had started by categorizing the input but that hadn’t allowed him to come to any satisfying conclusion. He was stuck with statements like “a better UI”. He realized that this didn’t allow him to know what was meant or needed.
Which was the best insight he could have. It allowed him to change his approach to the data received.
While it didn’t provide the answers he had hoped for it helped him see relevant questions. He could list all the unknowns and send them back to his team asking them for further precision.
But precision in this case doesn’t mean details. It meant to ask them for example “what a better UI should achieve for them?”
The evolution planed was a major leap and as they still were in the early stage of the project his task was to ask questions allowing him to define the strategy. Which meant to seek an understanding of the existing priorities and major achievements the different stakeholders were looking for.
He had to refine the process by iterating from general ideas to priorities and would reach details only much later in the process. Every iteration served to frame his task a bit better. But he also realized that his point of attention was to learn as much as possible about priorities and how they would serve the stakeholders. None of which would free him from defining the strategy himself, that is to choose the most relevant priorities and how they would be served.