Heilmeier's Catechism

I can’t remember where I first came across this, but just found it again, and it’s worth sharing. Some useful guidance for anyone involved in building a product.

Heilmeier’s Catechism is “A set of questions credited to Heilmeier that anyone proposing a research project or product development effort should be able to answer.”

Directly from the Wikipedia page:

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  • What’s new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares?
  • If you’re successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks and the payoffs?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the midterm and final “exams” to check for success?

Most of the best advice seems obvious, because it’s about the things that are so easily overlooked. This is especially true in the middle of building product, where you can get so wrapped up in the details, you can even forget why you started in the first place.