At Buyapowa we run a product team. Not a technical team, not a development team, but a product team. Working closely with clients and our client services team, everyone is responsible for moving the product forward. This gives a sense of responsibility that drives our attitude towards all aspects of product development. From ops and testing, to analytics and AB testing.
Building a great product has – even though we hate analogy – a few key ingredients, getting these different parts of the mix right is an ongoing process that involves everybody, and evolves continuously. It starts with a team, one that works well together and takes care of the complete product.
You need to give that team the ability to focus on the problem at hand. Give them tools to discover where their focus should be. Allow them to test and prove their ideas in small steps, to always be delivering good work. To get the best ideas and inspire true innovation, there must be freedom to have those ideas and to think creatively.
To keep all this good stuff going you need to work at a sustainable pace, deliver good value, and sprinkle in some fun, of course.
How does this look at Buyapowa? Well, let’s see…
##Team As much as we’d love to be a team of fully–fledged unicorns, each of us exuding rainbow magic all over the code base bringing joy, happiness and cash, we are not.
We’re not looking for unicorns. We’re building a team. By team I don’t mean group of same-minded people. I also don’t mean a combination of people who individually can do nothing. What I mean is a group of talented people who have empathy for each other’s skill sets, who each possess both unique strengths and importantly different viewpoints.
##Focus Building good products requires effort from many different areas. Sustaining this effort requires sustained focus. We keep our focus by not have long-running projects. We don’t have short–running projects either – what we do is work on one thing at a time, and that thing will bring the most value.
##Discovery Building software is easy; building the right software is not. People have ideas, good and bad, all the time. We need to find a way to filter the ideas and to direct the focus. It starts with data, continues with observation, and repeat. If we start with a hunch, we’ll look for data. If there isn’t any, we can try finding some.
##Iteration Software is not stone or steel. It is malleable. We do not build what we don’t need. We don’t commit to what ‘might work’. We build, we test, we repeat. Software is living, and it rots. We cut away what we don’t need any more, we keep fresh what we depend on.
##Freedom and creativity We use the best tools for the job, and this can change (see iteration). Creative solutions to problems and new ideas are the basis of our innovation.
Our output should be complete. Gather anyone needed to make sure of that.
“The best trick the devil ever played was convincing us it’s an option between two variants.”
- A wise man with dreadlocks.
##Value All work should be valuable to someone. Make sure the customer is first, and success will follow. All work will bring diminishing returns, we will not gold plate. Ensure the output is of high quality and test to ensure its value. Keep work small so that value can be easily measured and reasoned.
##Fun Will be met with harsh consequences.
We want to build the best product we can, and to do that we need to be in a good frame of mind. We do not consider the work mining – we can’t just pick up a tool and chip at it and walk away halfway through to continue later, we hate analogies. Our frame of mind has a great impact on our output. And so, we have FUN.
Fun is more than a quarterly knees up or away day. Fun is the state of mind we aim to be in. It’s not possible to always be there, but we’ll support each other to bring us back to fun as often as we can.
We tend to hire grown-ups, so fun isn’t just nerf guns and foosball. It’s just enough pressure to give you the right focus, it’s the freedom to make the UI friendly, it’s being allowed to act on sound discoveries, it’s working on things you can see will add value, and it’s solving interesting problems with the best tools. Put that in a safe, friendly and positive environment, and then you’ll really be having fun. Office board games can help too.
This post is a living document – we tweak it if we find it lacking, and we point at it lots to keep us on track.
So how does that sound? Good? Get in touch