I, for one, choose not to give up on summer just yet. Technically we’ve got until the 21st of September and I’m soaking up every day of sun until such time as I have to break out the fall sweaters and jackets (which given the forecast here in metro NYC, is no time soon). This month’s newsletter focuses on one word:continuous.
This relatively small word has fundamentally shifted the way we build products & services as well as how we design the organizations that manage them. It’s being widely used in a variety of contexts and, like manybuzzphrases, risks becoming meaningless if not divisive without a clear definition and understanding of the impact it has. Because this continuous reality is shifting how we do everything from writing code to staffing our teams, I thought it was worthwhile to dig deeper into the term.
I want to focus on three specific concepts:
Continuous delivery — In the last 5 years we’ve seen the meteoric rise of the DevOps movement. The combination of development and operations efforts, historically siloed and separate functions, has given our digital product teams the ability to test, deploy, roll back and update bits of code as often as the organization needs to. The value here? A fundamental shift in the malleability of digital products giving teams endless “swings” at launching and improving their services. The big bang release is headed for extinction.
Continuous learning — “So what?” you may ask yourself (or me). Just because we can ship code faster doesn’t mean we should or want to. I would respond with this: the sooner you get your ideas into the hands of your customers, the sooner you can find out how accurate your product choices have been. Continuous delivery is the engine that drives continuous learning — the ability to assess how well our products are meeting the needs of our customers. When measured quantitatively, this learning tells us what our customers are doing with the product. Coupled with regular and frequent qualitative conversations we get a 360 degree view of, not only, what is happening but why it’s happening as well.
Continuous improvement — Traditionally, improving our product AND the way we worked on it was left to the postmortems that took place after product launch. By building a continuous learning loop into every product release cycle we can now improve, you guessed it, continuously. Each time new insight comes in we have the option to use that information to make our product better along with the way our teams worked to deliver it. In essence, the organization is sensing how well it’s working together and responding in real time. I can’t overstate how powerful this is. At the core of organizational agility and responsiveness is continuous improvement. The cultures we create for our teams must view this type of growth as critical and not only allow it, but encourage it.
Do you have a good story about a company that has adopted a continuous mindset? I’d love to hear it.
Both Sense & Respond and the 2nd edition of Lean UX are now available for pre-order on Amazon. Lean UX 2nd edition is coming out this month (3.5 years since Lean UX first came out). Sense & Respond is our follow-up for the leaders looking to build companies and teams that support the approaches we advocate for in Lean UX. If you end up reading one or both of the books, we’d be grateful for your reviews on Amazon.
Sticking to my plan to travel less in the second half of 2016, here’s where I’ll be for the rest of the year: