The Hootsuite Mindset

Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash

Curious about what it means to be “lean,” I picked up The Lean Mindset by Mary and Tom Poppendieck to read about the various case studies in which teams adopted a lean mindset. At Hootsuite, we subscribe to a variety of principles and I found many parallels between concepts in the book and the Hootsuite mindset. Here are 7 takeaways.

“Talent is not something people are born with; it is something that is developed over time with hard work and diligent practice”

This growth mindset allows us to realize our full potential. At Hootsuite, one of our guiding principles, #OneTeam, is to be a producer of talent, not a consumer. It is through this mindset that we can challenge ourselves and empower Hootsuite “peeps” to do their best.

Through our “Cadence” program, we work with our managers to define goals that matter to us and work together toward achieving them.

Within my team, we rotate the leaders of our regular team meetings. This gives each team member the opportunity to take ownership of our team processes, challenge themself, and learn something new. Because we all know what it takes to assume this leadership role, the rotation helps create a sense of appreciation and empathy within the team.

Additionally, some of our fellow “owls” run a variety of internal training courses throughout the year, including the extremely popular Unconscious Bias course run by Carolyn Gidyk. This course taught us how to avoid the biases that can hold us back from growing, being inclusive, making the best decisions, and coming up with the best solutions.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Another way to describe this is that users are buying a solution, not a product, to help them achieve their goals. On the Product Growth team at Hootsuite, we strive to understand our users’ goals and how we can provide more value. One way we do that is by conducting experiments. This requires rapid iterative development in a way that allows us to quickly pivot as we uncover new insights.

“Product over Project”

Building upon the previous takeaway, you could even say “Solution over Project.” There are deadlines, and there are goals. In the pursuit of our goals, we sometimes need to re-evaluate the scope of work to stay within the amount of time we’re willing to invest. In the process, we make sure not to lose sight of the problems we’re trying to solve. If we complete a project on time but it doesn’t provide much value for our users or provide us with useful insights, then the time spent would not have been productive.

“If you deliver fast, you are focused on customers; you have to eliminate waste…”

This is an extension to the ”Product over Project” mindset. We want to be agile, and we want to build what is most impactful. Therefore, even if we need to downsize our plan, we consider the core motivation for the project. For example, in an experiment, if the results are not as we expected, we gain insights that inform our next iteration and help shape the planning for other teams.

“Make a Little, Sell a Little”

This is 3M’s mantra for encouraging innovation. At Hootsuite, we have internal hackathons where some of our production tools have been created. This mantra also aligns with how we approach experimentation: we move quickly in testing our hypothesis to continuously learn and iterate. Everyone has ownership, and a voice, to bring forth a new path to take.

“Minimum lovable product”

Teams at Spotify follow this mindset to build and iterate on their products. Coming up with the solution for a problem is great. Implementing a solution that brings delight is even better. That’s why, at Hootsuite, we’ve been experimenting with animations. In the spirit of being agile, we take care not to degrade the user experience even in experiments where the changes are temporary. It isn’t a solution if there is little user adoption.

Finding the global maximum

Sometimes, further adjustments to a product lead to diminishing returns. We need to take bigger leaps, perhaps reimagining our product, to be able to reach greater heights. This is all too true for some of our experiments, where we see some improvements in our metrics but further iterations do not build upon the success. Other times, we venture down a different path and are rewarded with surprising results. The size of the experiment does not necessarily equate to the size of the success. Expanding our vision past the mountain we’ve conquered allows us to find a taller one.

That was a glimpse into the Hootsuite mindset and some parallels to The Lean Mindset. Are there any takeaways that resonate with you and your team?

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Ryan Koon

Ryan Koon

Software Developer @Hootsuite. I work on experiments 🧪