Last Wednesday, we hosted a meet-up of the Agile Product Owners and Business Analysts group. The title of this meetup was “Validated Learning and Outcomes Using Lean Startup and Agile“.
At Redbubble, we believe that sharing the knowledge and the experience we have is important for the community. We are grateful to have such capable and keen people around us and hosting an event like this would allow us to make the world a better place.
We also wanted to talk about how we practice Lean Startup and Agile principles to achieve our goals of increasing value to our customers.
We are happy to have Neil Killick as a Product Manager on our team. He is well known in the Agile community, an established speaker and has organised many meetups before. He handled much of the logistics for us; our wonderful office managers also helped to prepare the office for guests and organised pizza and drinks.
The meetup was hosted in Redbubble’s current Melbourne office, which is quite “cosy”. Unfortunately we had to limit number of people to can accept to 70.
We are looking forward to moving to the new office where we will be able to host much bigger events where everyone will be able to attend.
Employing Authentic People
First off, we had our wonderful Troy from Customer Support team talking about the role of CS in a learning organisation. Troy tried to convey the message that Customer Support is not just a buffer – it’s a source of vital information for a company which wants to learn from its customers and improve their experience.
To do that you need to hire the right people and treat them like people rather than resources. Troy talked about the approach we’ve taken at Redbubble to do just that.
Have a look at her slides – Employing Authentic People
Validated Learning and Outcomes using Lean Startup and Agile
Dominic, also from Customer Support, spoke about how we achieve a close interaction between Customer Support and other parts of the company; including the Web Product Team.
He also talked about tools and approaches the Customer Support Team uses to make sure they are not just “e-mail junkies”, but a valuable part of customer value delivery process.
Dominic’s slides – Validated Learning and Outcomes using Lean Startup and Agile
Journey towards being Lean
Paul, our CTO, shared the story of how Redbubble transitioned from a traditional, centrally-managed organisation, to a company which spends time not just doing things but also understanding if those things are meaningful and brings value to our customers.
Paul talked about the growth pains and challenges small companies may experience on a journey to be Lean, and emphasised the importance of customer development.
Paul’s slides – Journey towards being Lean
Experiment driven product
How many times have you worked on a feature or a whole system which did not get shipped? Or when it shipped, it was not needed or used?
This is one of the biggest problems in Software Development and business in general – building something no-one needs.
Ivan, a software engineer from Redbubble, talked about how we use experiments to validate our understanding of customer problems, and for solutions to them.
He also showed a couple of examples of when an assumption that we had about our users was validated or invalidated. It is faster and cheaper for the company to fail a small experiment fast then spend time on building the wrong thing.
How we use Agile and Lean Startup at Redbubble
We have been applying Lean Startup principles in our work for a while, and we are also an Agile organisation. But all this doesn’t mean we have all the answers!
We are still on our own journey of continuous improvement. Neil talked about how and what we try, how we use tools to help us achieve our goals. We use those tools because they help us, not because they make us an “Agile” or a “Lean” organisation.
Thoughts and Experiences
We all live and learn, and this time we’ve learned that using GoToMeeting to record and broadcast a meetup is not a great idea. We also hope that once we move into our new office, we will be able to share not just our slides and thoughts, but recorded videos as well.
The meetup audience were interested in what we do, and it was a great pleasure to hear their feedback and questions.
We practice Lean Startup and Agile every day and take some things for granted. For some people this might be new or hard to implement, but events like this can show us an importance of sharing this knowledge.