Last night I attended the Austin Lean Startup Circle where Manuel Rosso and Steve Sanderson of Food On The Table gave us an overview of how they are practicing continuous deployment . Honestly, as a marketer, I have not worked directly with a firm practicing continuous deployment and was there primarily to learn more.
One of the key things Manuel pointed out was that the practice of continuous deployment was more than just a product development methodology but, was really more about company culture. To Manuel, continuous deployment is about driving an active state of constant learning from customers. He and Steve, made the point that you must be adept to be consistently running a series of hypothesis tests some long-term and others lasting days or hours.
They really hit home the point that they are crazy about metrics and the data it provides them for decision making is incredible. As the famous quote goes, “What Gets Measured Gets Done” brought on new meaning listening to them. One thing was really clear about the point of “getting out of the building” and talking to real customers – it often brings about another level of learning from a macro perspective that all the testing and analytics that measure what happens on web interfaces just can’t bring you. The guys talked about how as an entire company they were trying to solve a problem and could not figure it out for a couple of weeks, their emotions were getting the better of them and that they were stuck in data analysis. Then, they sat down with a customer who helped them figure out the problem in a matter of hours. We just can’t forget about the subject nature of people we are building screens and applications for – it’s so important.
Another key take away was the importance of the minimum viable product or minimum viable test. At its most simplistic nature, a test, is often even smaller than you think it needs to be. Steve gave an example of deploying a simple pop up button with in their sales funnel to help drive users to a different page. Whereas when they were brainstorming a way to drive traffic to this page the original thinking was much greater in scope. But, deploying the pop up button was abe to be done in minutes and within hours they were able to produce real measurable data that helped them make a decision about what to do next.
Personally, I got a lot out of this talk and thank Manuel and Steve for sharing. If you personally want to dig into continous deployment more and understand the implications that practicing the process of having an active state of learning can have on your business – even if you are not building software – I recommend watching the video below with Eric Reis and Robert Scoble and following @foodonthetable .
Last if you attended the event and have any other important key learning points I’ve missed please feel free to comment on them below.