When making decisions, I’ve found it can be quite easy to get into a “bikeshedding” scenario, where the deciding parties lose track of the actual decision to be made. This can be internal, or within a group. Something I’ve found particularly useful and interesting recently is to acknowledge what we already know and how we already feel, as a way of helping the decision to progress to the next step (towards ultimately deciding).
You’ve found a customer segment who really needs your product, developed a minimum viable version of your product and have launched to your market. Your customers are purchasing your product with roars of cheer and glee. What you do next is what you’ll be doing for the foreseeable future of your business; maintaining your product. While extremely important, maintenance of a single product can sometimes become repetitive. It can be great to switch gears from time to time.
Today, I’ll run through a few ideas on how to avoid the repetition as much as possible.
This week, I’ve begun doing a rotation with our support team at Automattic. Every Automattician does this as part of their on-boarding, as this helps to learn the systems, tools and users we’re interacting with every day. For me, this additionally helps to learn more about the users we’re building products for, which is a huge added bonus towards our user-centric approach to product development. Through this week, my work time demands 100% of my focus to be on the support rotation. I take this very seriously and am 110% focussed on learning as much as I can. This means, of course, postponing or moving any meetings I have on my calendar. This brought about some interesting and exciting results, which I’ll be exploring further here.
In today’s fast-paced startup culture, there is an often unspoken ambition held by many startup companies to “join the big leagues” and become large corporations.
As businesses grown and evolve, certain magical qualities are often lost. Today, I’d like to touch on a few qualities which big businesses could learn from young startups.
I’m not a business owner, or a CEO. I’m not a venture capitalist or a startup evangelist or any other title like that. I’m an observer. Here’s what I see.
Since starting this blog several years ago, I’ve tried several techniques to keep up a regular blogging routine. From blogging daily for a week or two, to attempting to blog every day for an entire year, I’ve tried them all.
While this blog isn’t a business for me, it’s a great way to share knowledge, thoughts and interesting discoveries. At the same time, I simply cannot dedicate all day every day to blogging, researching and constructing articles. Ultimately, it’s also not how I most enjoy writing.
So here’s what I’ve done.
At Woo, we recently picked up on the next steps of a StrengthsFinder assessment we conducted within our leadership team towards the end of 2013. This assessment aims to identify your top 5 strengths and assist you in harnessing them, while creating a better understanding of the strengths others possess and how best to relate to those you work with daily. The follow up steps of this assessment included a call with a leadership coach, where in we discuss our strengths, answer a few questions and better understand how to create the next steps in our strengths finding journey.
During my call with Horace (our coach), he mentioned the following, which stuck with me; “If you can explain to someone how you perform a particular task, that task is a learned behaviour. If you can’t explain the exact steps, that task is an inherent strength”. For me, this task was product architecture and analysis.
As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I listen to a wide variety of different topics, and attempt to glean value from each, and apply that value in different contexts. One of those topics relates to creativity.
When setting up a service or product-based business, there is a concept referred to as “lock in”, where the customer buys in to your ecosystem and, as they add products to their purchase history, it becomes increasingly more difficult to switch away to a competitor.
While corresponding over an email chain with friends this morning, we started talking about software licenses and how to interface between clients and purchasing software licenses for use on client projects (in particular, referring to licenses for WordPress plugins and themes). The topic of multi-site licenses came up, with the idea that the license can be purchased once and re-sold to several clients who can each cover a portion of the maintenance code. On the surface, this looks like a great idea, as each customer gets to pay a bit less than the overall fee, and doesn’t have any responsibility to maintain the license and pay the renewal fee each year.
Here’s why I disagree with this approach.
Since appointing Patrick as our dedicated WooCommerce Product Manager towards the end of 2014, I’ve been able to view some really insightful feedback from customers, without customers even realising they’re providing this feedback. One of the tasks I assigned to Patrick was to conduct regular in-person user testing of WooCommerce, in order to pinpoint common pitfalls and benefits customers experience with our product.
The process involved here is Patrick contacting a customer and, in many cases, sitting alongside the customer, recording their screen (with their consent) and quietly observing how they get their online store up and running using WooCommerce.
The craft beer craze has been around in Cape Town for some time now. While out for a day in the sun with friends this past weekend, we got onto the subject of what sets craft beer apart from commercially brewed beer. While not a huge beer drinker myself, I found something really special in this conversation.
The key point in favour of craft beer, aside from the taste, is the story behind the beer and the brewery. Through the discussion, we ascertained that one feels more connected to the beer, and thus more likely to purchase and consume it, if one understands a bit about where the beer came from. This is creating a sense of connection and loyalty between the customer and the product/manufacturer.
Lets try and prove or refute this concept by applying it elsewhere.
For the past few months, I’ve been following the “Advanced WordPress” group on Facebook. I joined the group thinking I would be exposed to advanced questions around WordPress development work.
What is it that they say about assumptions, again? 🙂
Through observation, it is apparent that the group is more focussed around advanced uses of WordPress for client websites, rather than development topics. I figured I’d keep following the group in any event and see what comes up.