There is something to be said for focus. I have been thinking a lot about focus and how it affects productivity, both individually and from the perspective of a team. I don't think there's really a debate on the fact that if you are focused you will be more productive than if you are not. I just think that people don't always focus their energy in productive places. I have fallen victim of this many times, it's hard not to. You think that what you are working on right here and now is extremely important and will further your goals, but sometimes that doesn't end up being the case, and your focus was misplaced. At Taplytics, as a team, we have run into this issue and we're constantly trying to triage what it is that we are focusing on and whether or not it is pushing our key goals forward.
This was specifically important to us when we were building mobile apps. This was because we found that the process of building apps just inherently took focus away from the important things. We talk about this a lot, but it comes down to what makes mobile development fundamentally different from development on the web. The way in which apps are developed and deployed to users, has regressed on mobile and instead of working to fix these problems most people accept the regression and shift their focus.
This shift in focus is based around managing. Managing in so many different forms. Whether it's managing people or managing workflows or managing communication, mobile development presents so many situations where your focus gets shifted away from creating, building and doing and places it on managing. This isn't to say that managing is always bad, but it is not us at our most productive. I know I would much rather be able to put my head down and blast through my personal to-do list, than make sure someone is optimizing theirs.
So where does this shift come from? Well, mobile requires that developers essentially own the entire process. Whether it is implementing logic, copy, image assets, design or layout, developers are central to the whole thing. On most any other platform now, developers would just own the logic and designers would own the layout and design while marketers or copywriters would own the copy and content. In this type of scenario everyone works more efficiently, because there is less management necessary, people can just do what they need to do. In mobile though there is a constant need to manage every aspect of the process.
For us, what this resulted in was our developers eventually spending 50% of their time coordinating and implementing design and content changes. That was 50% of their time that could have been spent coding, quashing bugs or introducing amazing new features that would blow our users' collective minds. The worst part was this 50%, wasn't even saving our other team members any time. Designers still had to design and manage the implementation of their vision by the developers and the people writing copy still had to manage that.
So at the end of the day, for us, there was this circular process where everyone was cross-managing interactions with everyone else, just to do things that should have been easy to separate and own individually. This clearly seems to be happening all the time with most development teams. Some have decided that it's too much and have switched off of native development to HTML5. The interesting part of this decision, is that these teams have decided to sacrifice the quality of their apps for the efficiency of their internal processes. This makes a lot of sense, because we live in a world, and work in an industry where speed of execution can be extremely important.
I don't personally think speed trumps quality of execution. Over and over it has been proven that the highest quality products win out in the end. So it is a shame that there are teams that are being driven to sub-par quality, because they can't work the way they want to in mobile today. In a lot of ways, that's why we stopped building our own mobile apps and started working on Taplytics. We got tired of the compromises and decided to help teams focus on what is really important, the quality of the app that they are delivering. We fix the focus problem by allowing designers to own the design and copywriters to own the content. By own I mean that they can envision it, create it, push it to users and update it, all without needing to go through developers. This brings focus back to everyone's job. This allows each person to put their head down and finish their own to-do list without needing to manage others. Making everyone their own critical path leads to far greater efficiency and productivity.