Development Process Experimentation: A Leadership Necessity

Creating software doesn't come with a one-size-fits-all guide. There are many ways to succeed, as shown by the wide range of methods used in the industry. For leaders in early-stage startups, it's important to know when and how to change up the development process.

Try New Things, Not Just in Your Product

A leader's job isn't just about overseeing projects. Just like a product manager might try out new things to make the user experience better, a leader should be ready to test and tweak the development process. What worked in your last job might not work in a new environment, so be ready to experiment.

A Real-World Example: Shopify's Six-Week Cycles

Shopify's engineering team gives us a great example. In 2019, they started using six-week development cycles. The goal was to make workloads easier to handle, improve how they decided what to work on first, and make it easier to show off high-quality work. It started with one team, but it worked so well they started using it across the whole company.

Just like traffic lights might slow down a driver for a bit but make the overall flow of traffic better, a well-planned development process helps the whole team.

Keys to Experimenting Successfully

If you're a leader in an early-stage startup, where people often work across different areas and there's a lot of uncertainty, here are some tips for experimenting:

  • Try out and evaluate different development processes.
  • Keep a record of what didn't work, so you can possibly give it another shot in the future. Context is key.
  • Stick to your opinions but be ready to change them if necessary. Be open to change.