What to do when your boss changes product requirements midstream

When a boss changes the requirements out of the blue–and development has already begun–it could mean one of the following:

  • The vision or strategy is not being shared
  • The product strategy is constantly changing
  • Roles and responsibilities have not been solidified
  • Key team members are out of sync
  • No one knows who the customer is
  • Decisions are being made based on guesses
  • Etc.

Requirement changes change everything–from what the product is to who it’s for to how it’s developed. Therefore, it can cause confusion and a loss of faith. The boss needs to understand this but you need to understand what’s driving the change. Did management learn something new? Were early assumptions incorrect? Is it to solve a business or customer problem? Was there a reason to not include you in the discussions about the changes? Etc.

You should set up a time to discuss this with the boss so you can hear from them firsthand. Ask direct questions with an emphasis on figuring out the “why.” If the answers are weak, challenge them. In other words, be unreserved with your questioning–especially if you have objective data to support the decisions that were made up to this point.

Once the driver is known, you’ll then be ready to have conversations about ways to prevent these kinds of situations in the future. Because that’s the goal, right? To make sure that the boss understands that buy-in from the team is important.

Handing off work side tracks efforts. It requires the team to go back to the problem-discovery phase. Whether they’re good ideas or not, does not matter. It’s how you arrive at the decision that matters.

by Photo by Akil Mansoor Kodakkadan from Pexels

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