First of all, I love the fact that Intercom team shares these insights publicly, I am a fan, even if I do not use the product — I refer the product to my friends all the time simply because of the content the team creates. Funny how good content marketing works doesn’t it? The ‘tribal knowledge’ is one of the most effective competitive advantages that a team can build and putting it out there for everyone to see takes guts. So another great article. Three comments from me!
1. Many small steps vs. bigger launches: as a smaller product team (10+) we used to do a lot of small introductions (20+ a year). At our current scale (100+), we have now reduced it to 3–4 per product line, one per quarter on average. The bigger the business gets, the more people you hire, the more time it takes to rally the troops. So I think scale matters.
2. Plans: Could not agree more. They are evil if I am supposed to follow a spreadsheet line by line. They are god sent if we have a clear vision set, in addition to the tactical day to day that can change anytime. In addition to hard work, a bit of chaos and randomness creates more chances for teams to get lucky.
3. I would recommend live demos with customers pre-release — not sure if this is part of the qualitative feedback from customers. Since the release cycles are quite short, recommend a 8–10 people customer advisory board that’s close to the product group more than any other outside audience. We use it extensively during community events, customer briefings, roadmap sessions etc — product does not see the light of day unless it has been field tested or extensively demo’ed.
ps. First published on Quibb