Lab Notes

Going faster in the wrong direction? 

Here’s a common story involving software product teams: they ship code, tweak process to go faster, but the team loses steam when the product doesn’t deliver value. And when the team suffers, the product suffers.

At GoKart Labs, we’ve helped many software teams step back so they can step forward.

Here are a few ways we diagnose common issues, and some recommendations to combat the issues we find:

ISSUE 1: Celebrating outputs, not outcomes

After a big new feature release, it’s understandable why teams want to celebrate. The team did everything it said it would do, in the timeframe and budget established.

But that’s not success, it’s table stakes.

How to combat: Position your team to measure and prove outcomes. Learn if the new features increase user satisfaction, drive new sign ups, or reduce operating costs. Drawing a straight line to results like that give you a real reason to celebrate.

ISSUE 2: Lack of experimentation

If you’re not experimenting, you’re left assuming your big bet will pay off. Sometimes you will get lucky and be right, but often not.

How to combat: Instead of betting the farm, we recommend you create the simplest form of your idea that will teach you if you should continue iterating.

ISSUE 3: Not getting market feedback soon enough

Is your feedback loop too internalized? Are you trying to satisfy whims of stakeholders, instead of real market problems?

How to combat: Steve Blank has long advocated for Getting out of the Building, and so do we. Building a new feature, shipping it and waiting for the market reaction takes too long and costs too much. Instead, create prototypes and mockups and shop them around to users (using tools like UserTesting.com).

ISSUE 4: Honest conversations are absent

Are you scared to raise your hand and say you feel like you’re wasting time and money on the wrong features? The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. This is the hardest one to tackle, but also the most important.

How to combat: Last week, GoKart Labs Strategist Jackie Dela Pole wrote a great piece on authenticity at work. Jackie offers six suggestions for tactfully asserting your point of view.

Stepping back to step forward

Along the product lifecycle, countless roadblocks can keep teams from being their best. And while it feels awful to step back and admit you’re stuck, staying stuck will feel even worse—and only accelerate your path to failure.

We’d love to hear in the comments what other issues your team is facing and how you’ve dealt with them.

At GoKart Labs, we specialize in Invention & Business Strategy, User Experience & Design, Web & Mobile Software Development, and Digital Marketing. To find out more reach out to us at [email protected]

A former mechanic, musician and librarian, Chris has a habit of tackling new disciplines to satisfy his deep curiosity for learning how things work. Schooled in the humanities and practiced in the sciences, he takes a balanced approach to ensure digital experiences appeal to users, makers and businesses. Chris loves cooking, biking all over town, and laughing at live comedy until it hurts.

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