https://s3.amazonaws.com:443/slideshare/ssplayer.swf?id=33934&doc=waterfall-bad-washing-machine-good-where-does-ia-fit-in-the-design-process-12008 This brilliant presentation was given at the IA Summit by Leisa Reichelt, a brilliant Interaction Design/User Experience expert from the UK. I've already heard a bunch of others use her metaphor, which I think works really well in illuminating the fact that design isn't linear at all...it's a neverending cycle of design -release - get feedback - design, etc.
But most of all, it struck me that this works for all levels of any project, whether it is design, development, customer service, marketing...
You've heard a great deal of me over the past couple of years talk like I'm some sort of developer or something. Talking about Onramps and Command Line Interfaces and Microformats et al. I don't just hang out with the developers for street cred...I hang out with them because it's essential for me to learn and to see the opportunities to make it easier for people to use, learn and love the products that I'm supposed to introduce them to.
Personally, I'm a strong believer in 'Great Products Market Themselves', so I kind of have a stake in it. ;)
I know that when organizations get big, that they start silo-ing off their teams into "Developers" "Designers" "Customer Service & Sales" "Marketing" and other such job functions...passing the project down the waterfall of disciplines: here's some code, add design, here's a design, sell it, etc. However, the most successful teams that I've observed are those of mixed discipline. Sure, perhaps explaining how OpenID works to a Marketing hack slows you down in the beginning, but once we realize that it works to empower the customers more, we get right behind you and make it happen with you...we also know how, then, to communicate it to the customer in the terms of 'benefits' to them....but so do the developers.
It's not just that the marketers should get involved in the development cycle, but the developers should also see what's going on and give input to the marketing cycle, too. Everyone should be involved and accountable at every point. And, if you can't be there every point of the way, just like in the washing machine, the knowledge transfer needs to by cycled around.
One big team washing machine.