Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The five tools of the professional software designer

A baseball analogy for designing software ...

"Any designer worth their salt knows that borrowing shamelessly or outright stealing are often touted as key skills. In the spirit of that concept (without outright endorsement) I'm going to apply that type of thinking to a post one of peers created recently. Which relates some of which we know about baseball and assessing skills to concepts around software architecture.

You can read this great post here and I'll pull Larry's concepts on baseball which are great guidance for anyone. (Well done Larry!).

From Larry's blog:

This series was inspired by the book Management by Baseball.

In baseball scouting one of the biggest compliments that a player can receive is to be called a "5 tool player". This is a reference to the skills that make up a good, all around baseball player:

1. Hitting for power: When at the plate the player can hit the ball with a lot of power, home runs and doubles are very common. Runs Batted In (RBI) and Total Bases (TB) are common stats to measure the power that a player shows.

2. Hitting for average: Hitting for power is only one dimension of the performance at the plate (sometimes a player that hits for power will strike out a lot). When a player hits for average, that means that they reach base more often when they have a plate appearance. Batting Average (BA) and On Base Percentage (OBP) are common stats to measure how well the player does in this skill.

3. Base running skills: How well does the player handle himself when they reach base. The obvious thought is how fast the player is in running between bases, but many of the best base runners are not the fastest, they are smart about the leads they take and are effective at breaking up a double play. Stolen Bases (SB) is the most common stat for this skill.

4. Fielding: Good fielding is essential for a team to succeed. Sometimes players can be great at the plate, but will be called a "defensive liability" meaning their fielding is sub-par. Fielding Percentage and errors are 2 stats to measure this tool.

5. Throwing: how well does the player execute throws once they have fielded the ball. Double plays turned (for infielders) and Assists (for outfielders) are stats for this skill.

So...how can we apply this to the 'design' process of software or experiences? Here are the skills I think are important. Everyone can practice these skills but professional designers have had some kind of formal grounding or education and experience in these areas. I've got four. What do you think?"    (Continued via Design Thinking Digest, Larry's Blog)    [Usability Resources]

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