How rework is killing us.

Recently we found ourselves in an embarrassing position. Just after launching our Private Beta and gaining a ton of momentum, we hit a wall.

We had been working on launching this site so we could start our marketing efforts and grow our customer base. We tried too hard to do something super cool. That was a mistake. We couldn’t get our “cool thing" to work well on all browsers and devices, forcing us to redo our mobile and tablet views at the 11th hour. Since we didn’t feel comfortable driving traffic to the site with these issues, it held up our general marketing efforts. This cost us at least a month of valuable time, when we could have been building our brand, acquiring customers and learning from feedback.

This was not the first time since we started Talu that we had to redo work. It has plagued us in other areas as well. Moving fast and being agile is great, but rework can silently kill you if you’re not keeping an eye on it.
 

Here are some of the lessons we learned:

  • Reduce work in process: focus on just your top few priorities so the team does not get spread too thin; and if you get stuck on something important, swarm it!
  • When you're moving fast, being solid is better than being super cool or cutting edge: don’t let the “group think" of doing something awesome overwhelm the practicality of solving a problem.
  • Don’t start work unless everyone has what they need: is the handoff from one person to the next really solid, or are their gaps?
  • Look early and look often: don’t wait to check in on work, make sure everyone is on the same page and no one is blocked by inattention.

So... resist the temptation to tinker for the sake of "cool", slow the team down to retrain focus when necessary and check in with each other frequently to avoid expensive rework. We'll let you know how well we do at following our own advice, so hopefully we can look back and say "Rework was killing us."