Chief Growth Hacker
We often discuss with our customers the difference between working in startup mode and traditional corporate mode. Why should we create a startup team around our next digital product launch? We have generally seen, that launching in startup mode speeds up both development and growth as well as ends up costing the company less than doing it traditionally.
In many corporations developers are a pooled resource that is shared between all projects. Often models like Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) are used to manage the resources. Product owners request resources for their projects and once accepted provide development stories to the backlog. Generally the product owners receive certain priority for their project once accepted to backlog. After finishing the project, the development swimlane is released for other projects. This type of resourcing leads to inflated project plans, as product owners overload the projects to get all necessary features developed when they have a swimlane allocated. In the worst case, when the project is finished the owner has no dedicated resources for ongoing maintenance and optimization, but need to justify each new development story separately, creating a significant management overhead and slowing down optimization. The requirements after launch are often small in development effort, but also feel irrelevant in prioritization. It is often compared what is more important, to change the text on a label, than fix a showstopper bug on another project? This types of comparisons tend to push down the critical optimizations in priorities and they end up never to be done.
Launch early, test, analyze, develop and repeat
On the contrary everyone in a startup team is dedicated to make this digital shop a success. The team has all the resources to analyze, design and implement necessary changes to optimize the shop. The product owner generally prioritizes speed over features, and aims at launching the shop as early as possible to maximise learning. As Reid Hoffman says: “If you’re not embarrassed by your product when you launch it, you have launched too late”. As the product owner knows that he has resources to optimize the shop later, he dares to do an early launch. Thereby the resources and time needed to get the shop ready for launch, are often significantly smaller than in the traditional corporate model. A good product owner understands that the product is nowhere near complete when it is launched, it’s not even 50% done. At the launch, the team activates optimization tools like analytics and heatmaps and starts monitoring user behavior on the site. They identify key bottlenecks and problems on the site and quickly design hypothesis to improve. These hypotheses are tested by A/B tests and deployed as permanent changes once their effectiveness has been confirmed. Then the team can move onto the next hypothesis and repeat. Same is done with marketing campaigns and social media activity. The team is constantly active in generating traffic and tinkers the campaigns to maximize ROMI. The small successes generate a positive reinforcement loop driving the team to keep on improving. The team achieves more as unnecessary hurdles have been removed.
We have helped several corporations to build and launch new products with the startup style. Should you be the next one? The enthusiasm and drive has been amazing. How could we help you?