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Your Quality Standards are Keeping your Product from Being Better | 7wlite Blog

Of course you want to build a better product and so does the rest of your team. The thing is, it's challenging to make better stuff when everyone has their own definition of what better is. If you really want a better product, you'll have to work with your team to decide what better means and what needs to be better.

You need to determine and maintain shared quality standards, so ambiguity never takes hold. And, if you're a product leader, you'll have to act as a bridge between what your team and your stakeholders consider quality. So, it's crucial to be able to communicate effectively what your core principles of quality are.

Once everybody agrees on standards, things are easier to measure

Shared quality standards are only possible when you have shared rituals to keep them in place. Here's a good starting point:

1. Gather your team for two hours or so and hand them sticky notes. Ask them to write down five words that represent essential qualities for your product's success.

2. Ask each team member to share the words they picked and why they believe it's important. Once the person is done, ask them to place the words on a whiteboard.

3. As a team, discuss what three words best represent your quality standards.

4. Based on the three words picked, ask each person to take ten minutes to write down what needs to be improved or added to the product so that the specific quality aspect is reinforced. Their answer should associate metrics with these attributes. A good template is: "Our product is going to be more [quality] once it does/has [feature or enhancement]. We'll know we reached our goal when [metric] is [result]."

5. As a team, choose the most important projects to tackle, using those three quality attributes as filters. The number of projects can vary, depending on the size of your team and the complexity involved.

6. Repeat this ritual for every project you have.

As time goes on, what you, your team, and your stakeholders value as a team may change. So, make sure to revisit your core principles of quality from time to time.