Edit: Apparently I have just mostly reinvented the Helmeier Catechism. Oh well, this one is mine.
In a private correspondence recently I presented what I claimed were my “Standard questions”. I’m not actually sure it’s true that they are – I’ve certainly taken this approach before, and asked similar questions, but I’m not sure I’ve ever broken down the thought process into quite such an explicit list of questions. They’re good questions, and I think I’m going to treat them like a check list in future.
- What does success look like?
- Are there similar things already out there?
- If yes, why aren’t they good enough?
- If no, why not?
(This isn’t actually quite the list I presented – I forgot the “no” branch when presenting it before)
You don’t have to cancel the project if an answer you don’t like to one of these question turns up (although if you discover that there are loads of existing things out there which do the same thing and are plenty good enough, or that the best success could possibly look like is that you’ve spent a ton of time producing something no-one wants you should probably think about it). The purpose of these questions is not to stop you doing the project, it’s to force you to think about its aims and context thoroughly enough that if you go ahead with it then you do the project well.