Chapter 7: Drive progress

Align the roadmap, priorities,
and progress with the team.

Talent is the potential of your team, but the right processes are what unleashes it.

Any start-up, particularly a disruptive one, is by definition operating in areas unknown. The opportunity that is being pursued exists because no one has filled it yet. The team has never worked together before. Perhaps the market for the product itself has yet to be created because no one has thought of it before.

At times, you may feel like you don’t know what you are doing. That’s because you don’t.

Torre has created disruptive products from scratch before, so we know how it feels. Voice123 didn’t really set out to disrupt the voice-over industry, but it fundamentally changed the way voice talent is contracted, recorded, and paid. It was never clear that it would be a huge success - until it was.

We have learned from that experience. We learned that the only way to go is learning itself.

When the data you need does not exist, you have to create it. You have to set up tests that give clear, concise results that you can learn from and then implement. This is simply not an option, it’s a necessity. This framework is a guide to how we do it so you can, too.

Build An Experiment Machine

For genuinely leading-edge products, there's no way you can possibly know what exactly works. You have to build experimentation into your processes.

The basic guide for this is as simple as a scientific method. The Experimento system starts with ideas for features and products, curated in categories for later use. They might sit dormant for months or even years, so it’s important to write them down as explicitly as possible.

But are they any good? In order to find out, each idea needs to be re-formulated and worked up as a hypothesis. This can be a wire-frame or other models. When that's put in front of actual end-users for testing, the first question is always, “Does this add value?” If it does, the particular implementation can be evaluated based on the question, “Does this work?"

Many ideas do not work as well as planned, at least when the users are asked directly. It’s worth asking earlier in the process, when the investment of time and effort is minimal. The feedback received tells you where to direct resources to drive success right out of the box.

Review all lessons

The Rhythm Of Learning And Creating

Turning this method into an engine for creation is a dynamic and relentless process.

At Torre, we start with a Trello board. We loosely curate and organize all the ideas we want to explore. They are separated into categories and described as much as possible. Their age is shown by the card's color, gradually turning yellow as time passes.

We refer back to them every time we have a problem to solve. Once we want to test them, it’s time to move ahead.

When a card becomes a hypothesis, it is transformed into a workable model. For us, that’s UX design, but it could be a snippet of code or other functionalities that would show us how it works. Once ready for testing, it’s not going to sit around and yellow on the board anymore.

Within one week, the prototype is ready. Constant communication between designers and testers is necessary to outline the experiment and find the right testers. Constant use of Slack provides instant communication and acts as a log, as it documents all the details so that the prototype can be properly tested.

Did it pass?

Every week, a new cycle begins. The prototype moves from hypothesis to testing and the results are logged. The results are recorded in analysis, and the value of the idea is now known. Should it move forward and be implemented in the final version? We now have our answer in a week.

It may take some more design and build to get it to the final product, and perhaps another round of testing. Many times, the value of an idea sparks responses from the testers, but the implementation is not as user-friendly as they had hoped. That’s OK because we learned something and now we know where to put resources.

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Always Moving Forward

Each one of these tests is not a result, it’s a cycle. Each idea has become new knowledge.

Through constant testing and communication, ideas make the journey to knowledge and then onwards to products or pieces of a product in the system.

It’s a matter of being organized and using the tools to propel us forward, documenting what we learn every step of the way.