Three Strategies for Tech Startups with Heart

Three Strategies for Tech Startups with Heart

Beci Lambrecht | Thursday, Jun 8, 2023 |  Startups

Working at a startup is an exciting challenge, an opportunity for growth, and not for the faint of heart. Here are a few things that currently resonate with our team, immersed as we are in that startup life.

Ship Value

What feature are we releasing this sprint, really? It is crucial for every development team to have a shared understanding of why they are pushing hard for a particular feature. Understand the benefits. Understand how their individual tasks fit into the product vision. Find a sprint cadence that consists of planning, committing, and delivering.

Sprint planning is a lot like individual goal setting. Successful people know that there are really two parts to achieving the desired outcomes: identifying those big-picture outcomes, and then identifying the concrete process goals that will lead, little by little, toward the desired outcome. When you apply this philosophy to a development team, it means that everyone can bring their strengths to bear on their individual piece of the development process, and know how that piece fits into the larger product. It synchronizes effort — especially important if, like Rotational, your team is geographically distributed.

Interested in becoming a stronger product team? This book by Alex Mitchell is a great resource.

Change your Changelog Game

Good release notes explain new functionality and help ensure usability. Better release notes might include screenshots of new functionality to ensure user understanding. But what would great release notes look like?

Who says you can’t write release notes in your changelog that users will enjoy reading? Write something that your marketing team can use in their outreach. Coders are creative people — release notes are an opportunity to let your personality shine. Allow your company’s style and voice to carry through these notes. A sense of humor can be an asset, and might be crucial to surviving life in a startup.

Want to be inspired by some great release notes?

  • Slack delivers wry change summaries that are accessible to non-technical users.
  • Tumblr includes playful narratives of how bugs were detected.

Prioritize Empathy

Work relationships deserve the same care you put into other relationships in your life. Can you identify what success means for a coworker in a given situation?

You’ve heard about “love languages,” but in a work setting, “recognition languages” might be the better term: what is the thing that will make your teammate feel successful? (Some people might want to give on-stage talks, for example, while others thrive on compliments or a mention in release notes.)

Empathy also pays dividends when you can use it to imagine your way into your customers’ experiences. One of the best ways to understand how your product makes people feel is to use it so extensively that you are submitting feature requests alongside your customers.

These small meaningful acts ensure that you don’t just list empathy as one of your company’s core values on the website; instead you’re practicing empathy every day.

Want to check out what our team is building? Take a gander at Ensign, a new platform and community for data teams working on event-driven analytics. Interested in a company who values empathy as much as you do? Consider joining our growing team.

Photo by Patrick_Down on Flickr Commons.

Photo by Patrick Down on Flickr Commons

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