Well the 2007 holiday season is officially underway! And with it, I find myself preparing for the usual hectic shopping experiences that I face every December.
Though today I stopped to think – is it really so stressful for everyone out there? Is it just me? Perhaps that’s it. After all, I know people that LOVE this time of year and the crazy shopping associated with it. Perhaps I just need a new way to look at this situation!
And so begins my attempt to cross-pollinate my way of thinking from work to home – which sometimes works really well and sometimes falls apart. But either way, this is my latest attempt to fit the holiday gift-buying experience into our world of software projects…
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love to give gifts to my family and friends. However, what I have a hard time with is figuring out what to buy. I want a creative gift for each person. And by creative, I mean something that they don’t already have, something that they wouldn’t just go buy for themselves and something different than prior years’ gifts. I would like it to be something that I like – after all, I’m the gift-giver. And finally, I really would like to enjoy the process of buying and giving the gift.
It feels like year after year we are building towards our one big product release at the end of year. And so I must say that the fact we do this crazy-all-out-gift-giving experience at one time per year is a bit nutty to me. I mean, why not just have a culture of randomly buying gifts for family and friends all year around? You could space your personal gift shopping out in quarters or months, whatever – it’d be up to you!
I have to say, I know some people that start holiday shopping back in August. What are they thinking? They like to start early and pace themselves, I guess. Frankly, I don’t have the endurance to keep it up for 4 months! I much prefer the agile method of shopping on the fly in December….for everything…for everyone.
Often we play this design-it-yourself game at the holidays:
Family member: “Joy, what do you want for Christmas?”
Me: “I don’t know really. I don’t need anything.”
Family member: “Think about it and let me know.”
(A few weeks pass)
Me: “Ok I found something. I like this sweatshirt.” (I send a link to
something I’ve seen that I like.)
Christmas comes and look at that – the sweatshirt is under the tree.
We are fortunate in that we can really buy ourselves what we want. And the true warmth of giving comes in giving the unique gift that they wouldn’t buy themselves (refer to gifting objective above). So when I have to effectively design the gift I will receive, that’s not fun. And when I have to ask my family to do the same (design their own gift), that’s not fun either.
So I’ve made a decision this year – I’m not asking my family what they want, and I’m not telling anyone what I want. I’m going to completely focus on understanding the basic requirements and then I’m going to have fun buying the gifts.
Success is in the requirements
So like with all projects, requirements are the key to this being a success. I basically need some general family information such as sizes and general preferences such as colors, hobbies, etc. Armed with this data, I intend to head out on my shopping adventure to just select things that meet my gifting objectives!
And with this, I realize I’m doing a bit of product management with my holidays.