Launch mode vs iterate mode

Paul Adams:

We had a really successful launch, with hundreds of customers now using it in production, but we don’t yet have a successful product. We must obsessively work to understand how our customers are using the product, what is working well, what needs to be improved. We need to talk to many prospective customers or customers on trial and understand what they need us to change for them to adopt the product.

Launching a product, and iterating a product, are two very different things and they require the team to think and operate in very different ways. We have been in launch mode for many months, and it is now critical to change into iterate mode. This is a really hard thing to do because it means breaking all our habits and ways of working and thinking in the team. The ability to do this asap though will define our success over the coming months. The very things that made the launch successful will make us unsuccessful in this new mode.

When we are in launch mode, we are ruthless about scope. We are narrowing and narrowing. Deciding to do anything other than the defined launch list requires much deliberation. “No” is the default answer to new things. We are necessarily risk averse.

Iterating a product is the opposite. We need to be very open minded and try many small things. We need to make changes to the product based on customer feedback, knowing that we may roll back those changes or change them a second or third time. Success for Educate in 2017 means changing much of our product. We ship to learn. We know that the product has a long way to go.

When I came across this post, I wanted to share it as it’s definitely true. We launched Flybase two years ago, and we’ve been enjoying steady growth since and as we iterate with new features, we’re seeing even more growth, but we also remember the important things. Rather than launching a ton of new features at once, it’s easier to launch them in pieces and gauge how well received they are, this helps us focus more on what our users want.


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