The Value of Visual Models

ArgonDigital - enterprise automation experts

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One of my favorite TV shows to watch is HGTV’s Property Brothers. The series features twin brothers, Jonathan and Drew, who show homebuyers how to buy fixer-uppers and renovate them to create their dream home. Why is this show so fascinating to me? In every 60-minute episode, I get to see a fully executed, successful product, from conception to delivery, which homebuyers absolutely love. That’s a Product Manager’s dream!

Each episode (project) follows the same format (development lifecycle). The first step is obtaining a wish list (requirements gathering) with the homebuyers (stakeholders). The prospective homebuyers list every feature they want in their new home – number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, location, office, yard, open-concept, master suite, swimming pool, you name it. The brothers then provide the homebuyers with a tour of their “dream house”, which contains everything on the wish list. The homebuyers are THRILLED – until the brothers reveal the price tag, which is generally twice their budget. Clearly, a turnkey dream house is unattainable given what they have to spend. The proposed solution? Purchasing a fixer-upper and renovating to their taste!

Next, the homebuyers are shown two fixer-upper homes, at much more affordable prices, that generally look like dumps. It’s funny to see the homebuyers viewing these houses, which are dated, in disrepair, usually smell, and are really ugly. The homebuyers are insulted, and often frustrated, to be shown these properties. But the Brothers always say – “you just can’t visualize the potential we see!”

The next part is my favorite part of the show. The Brothers sit the homebuyers down in front of a computer screen to show them their vision – visual models that show the potential of these fixer-upper homes. Gone is the ugly shag carpet and torn 70s wallpaper! Gone is the mildewy pink bathtub with matching pink toilet! Gone is the claustrophobia-inducing kitchen with wood paneling and zero counter space! What appears next is the potential, or future state – beautiful models of exactly what the homebuyers are looking for – open, modern spaces that mirror the “dream home” – requirements they originally provided, that previously seemed to be unattainable. This is the AHA! moment, communicated through visual modeling. The homebuyers are shown visual models (using really fancy CGI) of how these properties, purchased and remodeled, can be transformed into the dream home, while remaining within their budget.

I love this show because it demonstrates what effective Product Managers the Property Brothers are. The product is the house to be renovated, the homebuyers are the stakeholders, and the Property Brothers are the Product Managers. The Product Managers get to communicate the execution of their stakeholders’ requirements in the form of visual models. Also, I get to steal design ideas for my own place!

How else are visual models used outside of software requirements to aid in communication of a project? Share your stories in the comments!

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