Testing for boundaries

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In creative work, if you don’t push the boundaries you become boring; in the digital industry, failing to innovate may even render you obsolete.

As a producer, the core of your role emphasises playing it safe, going with tried-and-tested solutions, because the typical KPIs for producers are things like project profitability and punctuality of delivery.

If you are lucky, your penchant for certainty will be balanced by creative counterparts who play tug-of-war with you over the boundary line. Sometimes, you want to be assured that the negotiated decisions are sound, so you schedule in some user testing.

Remember, when it comes to creative testing, it’s not just about passing.

Imagine you’ve been dumped blindfolded on an island and you’ve been warned you’re surrounded by a sea of acid. You are trying to figure out where you can walk without being burnt. You decide to toss a stone to see if you can hear it splash in the sea.

If you toss the stone 10cm from where you are, then 20cm away, then 30cm… each of those additional tosses gives you practically no information about the shoreline (it’s anywhere between the stone and infinity).

On the other hand, if you hurl the stone as hard you can, you might find that it hits the sea in the first go; with one stone, you’ve narrowed down the range for location of the shoreline to be somewhere between 0 and 50m away from you.

Of course, your final product for release should be usable etc. but you can often learn much more about your work from strategic intermediate failures than a 100% pass rate.  Also, keep in mind your team only has time to throw so many stones before the industry leaves you behind.

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