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Habits for high-velocity product development

Habits for high-velocity product development

Could your product team double their velocity with the right structure and culture?

A few months ago, our CTO and I set out to make this transformation in our product team.

The project is still ongoing, but the needle is moving 💪

We took a clean-slate approach and reconsidered everything: how we plan, the team structure, roles and responsibilities, and our culture.

In this post, I thought I’d focus on how we’ve been thinking about culture and behaviors.

One of OfferZen’s values is Impact over Perfection. It’s about making tradeoffs that prioritize delivering value to customers over crafting a perfect product.

I’ve found that smart, capable people understand this value intellectually but struggle to live it in practice.

Usually, these folks tie their identity to the quality of the product they ship, rather than the impact the product has. E.g. What does it say about me as a designer if our product isn’t pixel-perfect?

So we started working with the team to define the essential habits that embody Impact over Perfect:

1. Bias to action: Moving fast is a habit that compounds over time. Take every opportunity to move a little bit faster.

  • Why can't this be done sooner? When someone says today, ask why not right now. When someone says tomorrow, ask why not today. When someone says next week, ask why not tomorrow.
  • How can we keep moving forward? People often assume dependencies when there are none.
  • Does this help us ship value faster? How to tell if something is a distraction or not

2. Make fast decisions: Most decisions are less important than they seem. Generally speaking, fast decisions are far better than slow ones and radically better than no decisions. Just avoid the obviously bad options, pick one of the many good options, and move on.

- When presenting a decision, share an opinionated proposal right from the start
- When giving feedback, build on the proposal or share a better one rather than pointing out issues.

3. Embrace simplicity: When operating in a complex environment, there’s an urge to match that complexity internally. Fight that urge and respond with simplicity.

4. Focus on the critical path: Everyone in the squad should have a simple understanding of what the critical steps are to getting the project shipped. Communicate the urgency to others who can help and do whatever it takes to unblock tasks on the critical path.

5. Kill fake work dead: Be particularly wary of internal-facing work like reports, documents, and meetings. Internal processes can quickly become self-serving time sucks if you aren't careful. If it doesn’t help us ship faster, stop doing it.

Implied within these habits is the willingness for everyone to trust their judgment and that of their colleagues - as well as having the bravery to act on their convictions.

And that's it!