How we develop the product in Nozbe - No Office Podcast, ep. 30

Adjusting your daily schedule is a good thing! Testing and experimenting with various configurations will help you set up a perfect pattern. The same goes for processes in your team. See how we improve schedules and product development process in our company,

🎧 Listen to the No Office podcast on remote work and managing a dispersed team

⭐️ Key things you will learn from this episode:

  • What are Michael’s and Rafal’s daily schedules like
  • How we develop Nozbe app and how we keep improving this process
  • How setting an appetite helps us delivering stuff
  • Magic of being an owner of the topic

🎙 Subscribe to our show and learn more about running a remote software company

🟣 Apple Podcasts

🔵 Google Podcasts

🟢 Spotify


🟠 Overcast

🔴 Pocket Cast

👀 Watch the NoOffice show on YouTube

🙋‍ Meet the Hosts

🔗 Show notes

🟣 Find Us

💜 Review Us

If you love this show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

📝 Episode transcript

Rafal Hello and welcome back to No Office, a podcast about work, technology and life from a remote company perspective. My name is Rafal Sobolewski and I am joined by my good friend and CEO of this remote company. We call ourselves #NoOffice Company. At this, the company is Nozbe and CEO is Michael. Sliwinski. Hello, Michael, how are you today?

Michael Hi, Rafal. Good. We’re recording on a different schedule. Morning our time. So probably our American friends are asleep right now, but we decided to readjust our hours of meetings. We’ll talk about it today in the episode. And, I’m good. I am already kind of feeling the Christmas spirit and this is my last day of work. Probably like, you know, today’s Thursday when we record it. And then tomorrow’s Friday, the Mighty Friday… weekly review and I am off.

Rafal That’s nice perspective. I don’t have so many free days left, so I will continue to work next week. But, I’m good. I’m glad we’ve changed our recording schedule so we can have coffee together. This is an episode No. 32 like 32 gigabytes of RAM memory in my brand new MacBook Pro, which is not here, and it was supposed to be here by now. But apparently something went wrong.

The finance part of the Apple company didn’t start the payment process. Oh man! And now it’s moved through to be delivered between thirty first of December and fourth of January.

Michael So, ho ho ho for you, man.

Rafal And I had interesting experience calling Apple support on Tuesday. It was 14th of December. It was the last day of the delivery window. So I call them and I had to wait like 30 minutes on hold to get to talk to someone.

Michael Your call is very important to us. Please wait and just wait and just wait.

Rafal And two things about it: one good and one bad. The good thing is that they really put on a nice music. I think it’s not like some shitty melody. It’s really just the normal, normal music - the kind of music they put before the Apple keynote starts. When you open the Stream, they have a whole Apple Music playlist for you. something like this.

Rafal So the experience is better than normal. Waiting on hold. They gave me an option. If you want to talk in English, you can press one and connect immediately. So I did that and English person told me, Oh no, it’s the Polish market order, so I need to switch you back to the to the Polish person and put you at the end of the line…

Rafal So that was the experience here and now. The delivery Window has moved to the to the New Year, New Year’s Eve, but this is really weird like we ordered almost at the same time.

Michael Actually, you ordered earlier. One week earlier than Radek’s and MacBook Pro both went through my father, our finance guy. Both were paid almost immediately. And I mean, the payment date and everything. So there was really no glitch on our part.

Rafal They have no like because because Apple is a nice company and they charge you only when the product is ready to ship. Yes, they are not the shitty company that they you preorder something and they charge immediately and they ship it in three four months. OK. . So this this is nice, but apparently something went wrong or I don’t know like that idea on on the other side was very nice, but couldn’t tell me what was the reason. But she just Slack contact.

Rafal She just made a ticket for the finance department

Michael So just to tell you that I really know what you feel because if you remember, I felt the same thing last summer. I mean, this summer when I was getting my iPad Pro, I, it was already like, I’m way past the delivery window. When it arrived, I ordered it in mid-May to. It was supposed to come in the second week of July, and at the end of July, I was going for a short trip to Germany and one day before this trip to Germany at the end of July, my iPad Pro came.

Michael So it was really at a last minute before my two week trip and I was so happy that they managed. But I was so frustrated. I called them also several times. I remember on them Apple’s support, and they couldn’t tell me anything. They just said, You have to wait. That’s it. They didn’t even tell me that, that there is some glitch between finance or whatever. They just said, you have to wait. And but I think in my case, it was the problem with the iPad Pro’s being just backlogged that there were just many orders and they just didn’t keep up.

Michael But they should have updated the page, but they haven’t like, you know, it was the twenty something of July and was still saying on my page, it’s going to arrive between between 13th and 17th of July.

Rafal Yes.

Michael So , so I really know what you feel because and especially, you know, when you want your new toy, you want the and you’re completing your thing. Just like in my case, I’ve already sold my iPad Pro if I’m not keyboard.

Michael Exactly, you see.

Rafal So I my only my only mobile computer right now is this iPad mini?

Michael Exactly. So, it’s a tricky, tricky thing. So I haven’t sold my iPad then. Anyway, my iPad went down to my daughter and she loves it. Of course, she has the iPad Pro 11 inch with Magic Keyboard and with Apple Pencil, so she is in love with this thing. But , so this is what happens when you order stuff about setting iPad Pro. I put it on sale together with Magic Keyboard, has one bundled one bundle and it was hard to sell it once I put it separately as a separate offers.

Michael Then it’s after two days it was sold.

Michael That’s interesting. . So apparently people prefer to just buy the iPad or buy the Magic Keyboard. Not both. Which I totally understand because really, I’ve already said it on the show several times. I’m in love with this machine and I’m in love with the Magic Keyboard. This is so much joy. This new iPad and I just like this keyboard wants me to to type. It wants me. It wants to be typed on, like it’s like it’s tickling my fingers.

Michael It’s so good. I really love typing on this thing.

Rafal I really love my Magic Keyboard for my partner as well. So anyway, I’m still getting prepared to update my setup to waiting for this, my MacBook Pro, as we talked in some previous episodes. I was counting on this universal control feature in my class that Apple was supposed to ship this fall. But now, now it’s the date, and it’s officially opened up a site that says it will be shipped in spring 2022. So it really sucks because I wouldn’t be able to test if if my assumption that I could use my my Marcus Michael second count of us, I wouldn’t be able to test it until it’s clean.

Rafal So, kind of sucks. And they were starting to figure out what, what do I need for my MacBook Pro to use it in here in my in my home office? What do I need to connect to it? And actually, I need to have a USB-A port to connect the camera via accompanying and ethernet, or because I want to be on the cable while doing livestreams? . No, not because of the internet speed, but because I is it’s it’s not that much on the cable.

Rafal I can use this this full HD monitor that I have to to use. It has a USB hub via USB-C so I can connect it. But I have only one U.S. be a USB 3.0, wi fi, USB-A type port to connect the camera, and I have nothing to connect Ethernet. , so probably I would go. I would need to to buy an adapter. And there’s no official adapter from Apple available from USB-C or Thunderbolt two Ethernet.

Michael …but the ones that are on sale, I have one from you green. It’s fantastic. It’s very good. I have two of those and they they work very well.

Rafal They work very well. But I I saw the one from your green head. I did the product page. They say that this might not work very good on MacOS Monterrey two at twelve point zero hundred, it should it should be fixed in the future updates.

Michael Well, so I can tell you that from my experience Directors that I have worked very well, both with me, with the MacBook Pro’s, but not moderate. I haven’t tested. Monterray will have a MacBook Pro with Monterray here and also with my iPod. So I that’s my regular adapter, if I want to, for example, just connect wired to to my router to just, you know, do some diagnostics, for example. So I just take my iPod connected with this dongle and the the cable, and it works very well.

Michael So no complaints on that site. So you got you don’t need an official Apple, you know, branded Przywara, but I would always want to have an option. OK, but I will see how it was. Actually, I have. I have a USB-C to digital audio video so with USB-A and HDMI port. Mm-Hmm. So maybe I can somehow use that and have some adapters from. . But anyway, I still I still need to buy an adapter to Ethernet.

Michael There you go. So don’t look down.

Rafal And when I was researching like 4K monitor options only Philips has monitors with Ethernet port. Yep.

Michael I mean, they’re not really very popular, the ones with the Ethernet port.

Rafal Dan monitor options are really not that great. We will see. You know, I know it’s not the purest thing, but my wife is really happy with her 27 4K display and it’s pretty good.

Rafal I’m I’m thinking that like the 4K with 27 inch would be wouldn’t be like awesome, but would be good enough to know to be sharper now that my eyes wouldn’t wouldn’t see on the difference.

Michael …and the one that we have, I have a Thunderbolt cable to it, so I just connect it to my iPad and it both charges the iPad and just mirrors the iPod screen. And of course, I don’t remember which model you use.

Michael I’ll send you there. But it was the one recommended to me by our friends from from our Nozbe Teams, by Leland and somebody else. So I just went with the recommendation.

Rafal That’s it still waiting for them. From my, , beloved MacBook Pro.

Michael All right. This is the suffering off of technology enthusiasts, OK?

Rafal Last episode we talked about how we can’t get our Design Fight meeting and go more async. Know we’ve talked communication about design. And , we have some more changes, though, for in our meetings schedule.

Michael Not. I mean, this is what I like about our the way we work and we have these quarterly off sites, the quarterly meetings with, you know, and then every quarter because of these meetings and because of the feedback that we get and we do change some things, we do make some adjustments and I like making adjustments every quarter instead of every year because like, you just forgot how it was if it’s just a year. So every quarter is that for me, the best feedback loop because it’s already like three months in which really three months is not that much of a time.

Michael And and then but it’s it’s long enough, but it’s short enough every quarter. One part of a part of my quarterly review is to review my weekly schedule, like how my week goes. If there is anything I can improve, if there is any meeting or any other, you know, timeslot that I’m using wrong or or, for example, in my case in here, where I live in autumn and in spring, it’s very nice to go out to do some running in the middle of the day, like it’s two o’clock like at 2pm because it’s the warmest like the winter season there.

Michael It’s the best time. You know, I know early morning is the best, but not annoying. Anyone is just freaking cold, so. So really, from autumn to through winter to spring, the best time to go out for a short run just to, you know, do some sports. It’s in the middle of the day. That’s why I really like to readjust my schedule so that I can have like, it’s 2:00 p.m. or three p.m., sometimes one hour to just go out, go for a ride and go back, take a shower and continue working.

Michael So, , so based on all that and based on your complaint that you had too many meetings on Monday, which was true, we decided to completely like change the way we do meetings.

Michael Like, not completely. It was the just an adjustment. And now we actually do something which we we always said we wouldn’t do. But we start almost every day with a meeting. So we have a meeting as in my case, I can say that I have a meeting every day, Monday through Thursday at 10:30. So 10:32, 11:30 usually usually it’s just one hour, maybe a bit more, but usually one hour. So this way, in the beginning, I have my breakfast.

Michael I mean, I get my kids to school, I have my breakfast, I have some Warm-Up time I can prepare for the meeting, then I have the meeting. So it’s really good to have this time to prepare for the meeting because meeting should be prepared. And then after that, at 10:30, I have the meeting on Monday. I have our Directors meeting. So our leadership meeting on Tuesday, I have marketing meeting. On Wednesday, I have our business and politics meeting with Tom and then on Thursdays, every other Thursday.

Michael I do this, I have a meeting with all of you guys and with Rafal, of course. , so. And then on Friday, no meetings because Friday is Friday as Mighty Friday. So come on. And then at 12:00 and after the meeting, I have some time to, you know, calm down and relax and have maybe brew another coffee and then the 12 from 12 to two. I have a constant block of Core hours the Core hours concept.

Michael I wrote about it in my book and we’ll link in the show notes, and we also talked about it with Radek on the podcast. So I have. So it means every day from Monday through Thursday. So four days a week from two noon to two to two two hours straight. I’m working in focus mode. I have one topic each. Each Friday, I choose topic and then through these days, I I work on this one topic and then from from 2pm onwards, I might go do some sports.

Michael I might have additional meeting if I want to. I might have feedback time for my Nozbe team. Like so after 2pm. Like I decide what to do. So very often after the Core hours focused session, I go for a run or I do some other sports and then I get back to work to do some feedback and, you know, get back to the to the team. So this way, my week is better structured. I think I had a very similar schedule, weekly schedule.

Rafal I froze upon this court. I Core hours, but I don’t plan like one topic for for the whole week. I just plan the plan to three topics per week. So I want to make sure that I have appetite only for food for like one or two Core hours per topic. One today’s topic. So I think I want to try this if it motivates me to really deliver something that already adds value and can be asked for feedback and move forward.

Rafal So this is what we learned about. It actually works for our product development process we were talking about in a second. Having this setting, this appetite, it really makes you triggers you to make good decisions to to to to to deliver something.

Michael Exactly. And so that’s why it’s really like I really recommend evaluating your meetings on a quarterly basis, like just make sure and Rafal. I think you’re happier right now with the new meeting schedule that you don’t have the Monday completely swamped with meetings, right?

Rafal I had I I think the way of current schedule, it’s like perfect again. We have that many meetings, but we have appetite for. , it’s it’s not too. It’s not too much. It’s less than we used to had. , and I think that’s that’s really nice because it leaves a lot of a lot of a lot of space for a price point in Core hours and second for feedback, feedback, us asynchronous feedback.

Michael And you know, we are creatures of habit. So it’s really good to structure your week to really think about this. I think I stole this idea from Michael Hyatt, the idea of the ideal week. So how would my ideal week look like? And and just. And of course, it’s never ideal. It’s never perfect. But you know, having this framework helps you know what to do like this. This week is totally meant for me because like, first of all, I had I had a booster shot of vaccine.

Rafal OK, so I was a nurse on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I got some cold and actually my fiance, I also got some cold. But we do. We do some antigen tests. It’s not COVID, so it’s an employee. It’s just a normal cold. So, , it’s not perfect. I wasn’t able to to do like Core hours on Tuesday, but but still like the the schedule you should. It’s good to have this, this perfect schedule where to your your you are trying to optimize for.

Rafal But if you don’t actually achieve that, that’s that’s fine. Just move on.

Michael Only this week, you know, it was the first time I haven’t been Core hours in a very long time, so and I missed it. So this week I tried. And for example, on Tuesday I was like, in such a procrastinator mode, I can was 12. I haven’t started at 12:30. I was still doing some feedback on some other things that I wasn’t supposed to do. At one, I was still doing that. I was like, All right, I feel so guilty.

Michael Now, let’s drop it. Let’s focus on the Core hours. So I started really late. I started at one o’clock, one something, but then I pushed through and I worked until, I think, three p.m. on the Core hours. So I did spend two hours on this, on the topic. But it’s like, you know, you have to still get back to this muscle memory to this, you know, habit of this is the time to start.

Michael Let’s let’s. Let’s do it. And it’s hard. That’s why I really once again start next year doing Core hours regularly, so I get back into this habit of of delivering weekly some really good output in my Core hours.

Rafal Well, we already record, we are already recording for 22 minutes. So maybe let’s take a break here.

Michael Let’s give the microphone to Mike St. Pierre.

Rafal Yes, because No Office podcast is sponsored by Nozbe Teams, a to do app that helps small teams do great things. Let’s hear what Nozbe customers say about the product.

Mike St. Pierre We tried a different project management tools for the first couple of years when I was with the organization. I currently am CCMA, and then we realized that we just need really one place where we can communicate, where we can share projects, where we can think in written form, where we can give each other feedback. So we tested a couple of different things. And eventually we settled with Nozbe Teams, and it’s been really fun to see the software mature and just get better and better.

Mike St. Pierre The data security, I know the company is totally committed to improving the product. For us, it’s simple. We have some members of our team who are very tech savvy and some who aren’t as tech savvy. So to find one tool that actually is usable for all those is not easy. We did dabble in a couple of competitors and they were just too much, you know, too complicated, too many features. What our team needed was something simple, reliable, trustworthy, something that was fun and attractive and enjoyable to use.

Mike St. Pierre And so Nozbe Teams was really fit for us since it’s met that sweet spot. It’s reasonable. We’re a nonprofit, and so the price is right. It’s easy to add members. I just added somebody yesterday. It was no big deal. You know, I think I went to the five person plan to six. It was not a big deal, you know? So that’s nice because it’s flexible for us. It just gives us a place to park everything and and it works for us.

Mike St. Pierre So we don’t want to be emailing within our team. We’re not perfect at that, but we want to cut down on that. We want to cut down on interruptions during the day. And so I’ll try anything that will help accomplish those two things. So for us, Nozbe Teams really fits that. That needs that we have as a small team.

Rafal All right. That was Mike St-Pierre, our customer.

Michael If you go to blog dot Nozbe dot com on our blog, there is a full my full interview with Mike about his productivity summit that he just recently launched, and you can still get the recordings of the of it. It’s really, really good. And when you pay for it, they call it, the payment goes for good causes. So make sure to check it out. But when he was saying that about Nozbe Teams and I just asked him a simple question, I said, Mike, can I use it as a testimonial?

Michael It was so authentic. It was fantastic. So I just we just cut it out from the interview just to put it as a testimonial.

Rafal . , that’s that’s really great. We have more and more of those customers who who agree to to record for us testimonials so we can use it as What’s Inside podcast. That’s really nice.

Michael And it’s just so much better to hear from somebody else like, you know that we are not the ones selling, you know, Nozbe Teams is the best we know is the best we have. We spend your whole life building it, but it’s just so much better when somebody else recommends it.

Rafal So , today I wanted to talk about how our product development process as we kind of talked about it in episode 13. It’s it called no roadmap. , but I want to add to it the things we we learned from with this time. It’s like ten months from from episode 13. I’m really good at how it works right now, and I was procrastinating on the writing it down as our product of this product dev process as a formal document in our Wiki.

Rafal OK, and I want to also have it somewhere, and I will help her page for maybe as a blog post to be transparent with our users too so they know how we work. , and I was procrastinating on it, so I decided, OK, let’s talk about it. And based on that, it will be much easier to to prepare those. Those kind of written the forum content about that. As as we said many times on this episode, transparency is, is that is very important in in No Office company, yes, but also transparency.

Rafal We had to do our he was us to our customers, so this is why I want to do it. OK, so basically to to remind you, we work in five weeks cycles. So that means that every five weeks we have a retrospection with our development team and designers and we have a retrospection. Then we plan the next to. The next cycle, what what are we going to do and that’s that’s the old timey there is no road map.

Rafal There is just a product of vision like based on those commandments we we also talked about it in previous episodes and every five weeks we just the development team has has the retrospection. So we every five weeks, we do some small improvements of the way, how the process works. And with the leadership team like you, Iwona or Tom Radek, we plan what our priorities for the next five weeks.

Michael . As you mentioned, we have the Portfolio of options. So we have, you know, basically tasks with descriptions of features we wanted to do, maybe eventually in Nozbe Teams. And because of that, we can choose from these Portfolio of options and because we plan every five weeks so every cycle. The good thing about it is that every five weeks, we also incorporate new feedback. So this way, like there’s a trip trick for you, our users write stuff to us, like write us feedback what you which features you would want in Nozbe Teams and why, and give us the whole story like we know not just I want this feature, but I want this feature because I want to work like this because my flow normally is like this and just give us the whole spiel, the whole example.

Michael Even give us an example of a real project in your company, how you would do it, and to which kind of feature would help you, where you think would help you get there faster. This way, we can evaluate it. And this way, every five weeks, we can choose from this Portfolio of options based on not only on our gut feelings and on our, you know, vision for the product, but also based on the feedback from customers like if we see a customer pushing for several customers, not one customer, but several customers pushing for some features while pushing for some direction like we need this and not that, then we see maybe we should reprioritize, maybe something we thought we would build later.

Michael We could build now. And then that other thing could go for the next cycle. So really, this gives us the flexibility of not having a goal set in stone roadmap for the whole year or beyond. But just choosing from the Portfolio of options and choosing and, you know, feeling the, you know, filling the room to see what people really want, what our users really want, what they really need.

Rafal . And if I go through our features request project, where we gather this feedback like the most desirable features, the most of them are already implemented or being in the works when when I do our planning before I ask your leadership team for feedback, I also review like this feature request project I drive you support, support tickets, project and support ticketed if there is something, something important there. And during the cycle, sometimes I got asynchronous feedback, for example, for on o Rafal.

Rafal This is important. Let’s make sure we plan it for the next cycle, and then I have this special task that I mark this task with. So once I once I prepare like input for you guys to to to give me feedback on what’s important, I can point you to to those tasks. So you can you can make a decision. And , and everyone the leadership team gives me like two or three top priorities. I review them. I I need to see the holiday plans for our development team for the next five weeks to to see what what appetite we have available to start to spend.

Rafal , how many, how many work hour days we have. And I reviewed this, this priorities you gave me and see if they are ready for implementing the implementation. So I’m ready for the developers to work on or they need some shaping up. So design, design stuff. So we have like dev pathfinder design. As we said, we really don’t need this roadmap or backlog because what we earn that important topics always come back.

Michael Yes, they do. And you know, we really have. I’m really proud of our customer support team, our customer success team. Now we call it so really right to us. We respond very quickly and we do listen to everyone. It doesn’t mean that we will give you a response. Yes, we’ll do it now, but we do listen. And that’s why, as you said, thinks resurface every time like we but especially and this is the best part.

Michael So not only the intention five cycles. Remember, we ship our app every week. We have shipped 45 versions of Nozbe Teams in this year, right?

Rafal This yes. Yes, 40 45. Think yes.

Michael So we ship every week. So the improvements are coming up. All the time. Nozbe Teams, and based on these improvements, very often we get new feedback from customers, and that’s what I like about this cadence. Like, we ship something. We get feedback. We ship something. We get feedback. It’s just it’s fantastic. Like, it’s just so quick. It’s so much better than, like, you know, preparing a feature for half a year and then, you know, announcing it.

Michael And because of that, everything has changed, too. We don’t do versions like version one, version two, version, whatever. There is a version of year dot number and number of the week, and that’s why we have right now. We are right now on version 2021. 45. Oh, Nozbe Teams. And also because of that, we. Announced features and a bit later, like they have already been shipped, people have already been using them.

Michael We already got the first feedback and then we announced the feature on our product blog on our blog, like we do it a little bit later. And by the way, just it just heads up. The multi-team feature is a killer. People really love it. We already have several customers using multi teams and and using several, you know, premium teams on their on their accounts because they see that they can divide the work and personal style to the different departments and stuff.

Michael So the marketing feature, man, we just analyze it. It’s it’s it’s it’s a killer.

Rafal There are one one main thing we learned from from doing this kind of process for almost a year is that we really as. Always, if it’s possible, and very often it is. We start the vote of people with the future. . For example, we usually set one week appetite to have for frontend and backend developer to prepare the basic version of of the of the function we say top. But we we shaped it up on really high abstraction level.

Rafal We just set up what what should be possible to do by a user, how how user flow looks like, but not the UI. We don’t. We don’t at this level, we don’t shape, shape up UI elements yet we just give it to developers. And then they figure out how to how to do it, how to prepare something functional for us to test on Dogfooding. This is really great because often it happens that after this, we decide how we test it, use it for one two weeks and see how this actually really adds.

Rafal Already, value, let’s ship it and prove it later or or may be OK to ship it. We will need just a small improvement to to to to make it Shippable, and it’s one two days of work. So the developer who developed it, usually in the next cycle, will will find some, some spare time to finish it up, finish it top. And because they are owner of this topic, the developer, they are very motivated to deliver it to the Shippable state.

Michael , that’s that’s a very good change that we did that every feature decided for the next cycle has the features owner. So one developer owns the feature is they think the is the the the CEO of the feature, you know, so this person is responsible for the feature. We have one status task. They mentioned us in the task and this way we can really see the progress in the status task. They report the progress on the feature. Of course, they prepare other tasks in the project.

Michael So every feature has a different project and Nozbe Teams. And it’s amazing. I mean this. I think this in every leadership book or every management book they repeat repeatedly tell you ownership is key. If somebody feels like an owner, they feel differently about things and it goes to things. It goes to people. I’m sorry and it goes to concepts. So really, if a developer feels like an owner of the future CEO of the future, they really take good care of it.

Michael They really care about it. They really ask for feedback. They really feel responsible for delivering it and feel proud when it’s shipped. So it’s like the whole mix of feelings of being an owner. And I think this part is really amazing that we have that and I really like that because I’m no longer the my effort is no longer needed to during the cycle to giving feedback and make product decisions. Because, we make decisions after it’s shipped to Dogfooding only only done.

Michael And at the beginning of the cycle, we just have a kickoff meeting where my designer and two deaths like backend and frontend or on the front end are on the backend depends on the feature, but one of them always is the leader, the CEO of the future and trust that we make sure that this set up document. I usually comment in the Nozbe Teams app that we are all on the same page and say that the project team and the owner of the feature understands what needs to be done.

Michael And then they are on their own and they make they can make a product decision, they can cut the scope, etc. And many times they just they learn how to design UI based on their components we already have in the app. And if we decide that UI is not good enough, then we ask about how you are the designer to prepare our specs to improve it. But that will be done as an improvement later in the future cycles.

Michael But again, this is the best part like they first built with the blocks that we have. So they is like building with LEGO. You first build with something that you have and then later you see it and you’re like, Oh , it could be improved. It could be a bit slightly better. You could do something here and use a different block, or maybe design a different block or whatever. So it’s like you build what you have first and then later you improve upon it.

Rafal Many times we just ship the production like this cheaper version because we decided it already adds value to our users. But sometimes this requires more work. We, for example, we have on Dogfooding features like team comments or we change the way on Dogfooding, how repeat tasks works and comments inside of them. But we decided it’s requires more, more work to be capable, but it hasn’t been prioritized yet or recently. When we had Design Fight meeting, we discussed I knew that feature, and this is the kind of feature that will require CI work first.

Rafal It’s not possible to implement the cheapo. Our cheapo approach is not applicable for 100 percent of things we can do. But but once, once it is applicable, it works very well.

Michael One of the things that we discussed during this retrospection and this quarterly also feedback loop, we decided that we should use the chip all also for for design. So sometimes we should implement a very simple feature just to see where it goes before we actually design it. So like there’s one particular feature, I’m not going to mention it right now to not to get everyone’s hopes up, but there is one particular feature which I wanted to have implemented quickly in all our Dogfooding.

Michael So just for us just to see if the basic premise. So the basic mechanism of this feature would actually work if this is something that would change our habit, change our the way we do stuff before we polished it out. Just just just to see, you know, if it works because I was just tired of just designing it and thinking about it. And, you know, in abstract, in theory, so. So we decided that we should also have appetite for these kind of experiments just to launch something that might we won’t we might not ship at all.

Michael We might just take away from us back, you know, but but launch something internally just to see where it goes and to see if it’s really something that we would miss if we take it away, you know?

Rafal But as I as I mentioned, this repeat tasks and how comments appear in the recruiting tasks. Yes, this is this is the perfect example. Like we we really spent a lot of time of designing how it’s supposed to work better and we cannot find a final conclusion. So we implemented some cheapo assumption and we learned from this.

Michael We don’t like it.

Rafal Yes, we don’t like it. But there are things that aspects of it, that we like it. But as a general, we don’t like it. So it’s not not scripted. . And this this is this is really great what we can have. OK, let’s have a one week or two free days appetite to do just exploded. And but because once you you, you can click physically see see it working the the basic concept, then it’s you learn so much more about that and you can really make make further decisions more easily.

Michael And there is another thing that I wanted to discuss with you, Rafal, and which I think we haven’t discussed. So you will be surprised. So I was speak on the recent QS meeting to assess our quality support meeting. We’ll discuss it probably in the future. But the idea is that I get lots of feedback from the customer support like what? What people really want, what people really, you know, are struggling with. And the thing is that, for example, Nozbe Teams Teams app is already past the point that it’s a very usable app for us.

Michael So it’s already very usable app for us. Like we I mean, we’ve been using it for the last two years from the very beginning, and we suffered through its shortcomings. But now we don’t have that many shortcomings like our team. But there are shortcomings that we that still are part of the vision of the product. But there are features which we wouldn’t use so much, but our customers would so like they. They keep on sending us these feature requests that, you know, in our case, not only that are necessary, but we see the point like we see that it makes sense in their context, right?

Michael And for their industry. So we would need to, in really every cycle, incorporate more like features requested from customers, features that you know, might not be so interesting for us. And I was thinking that maybe with that, we could think about expanding our Dogfooding program. So to have like three steps have like a step of Dogfooding for us, like so this is our like our app with all the, you know, Dogfooding stuff. So they’re just all the cutting edge.

Michael But then if we know we can ship something to customers to show them, we could have like a Dogfooding for customers and these customers could. The idea is this they would have the normal production app, but they could, you know, explicitly this one app account. But this one app or maybe their account, I don’t know. But they could switch to like tester mode because some of our customers have expressed this thing that they would want to test early features before they are shipped.

Michael So we could enable them and they would we would tell them, guys, this is, you know, these are not features that you know, that this is not the final state of the feature. These are experimental features like so really experimental stuff.

Rafal The things my my my two.

Michael Things might be my change, I might might be taken away from you.

Rafal , . A couple of us, we’ve we have better exact lessons, Marquis.

Michael Exactly. So this way we could have like a Dogfooding for customers, because then, for example, we can tell a customer who requests a feature for like, kind of, let’s say, their industry. And we think that we think it’s a very good general feature for everyone. But, you know, the request was from them. We can tell them, you know, man, it’s been shipped to customer Dogfooding. So if you switch to that mode, you can test it out and let us know if this is what you wanted.

Michael If this is what you feel and this way they could tested before we ship it for everyone you know. , like we we could have. I would call it just a better version because like as Apple showed us in better things might change. It’s not like that.

Michael I mean, , exactly. Like this summer in the beta version, there was a big hoo ha hive on safari and stuff, and they have really iterated on it based on the customer feedback.

Rafal . So it proved that the process of better works actually very well.

Michael Exactly. So I think next year, this will be our time to really think about it and really design this kind of beta program for our customers.

Rafal So it’s almost like we already talked about it with the development team and because it it it would add some, some additional efforts to our weekly release schedule process complexity. So we really need to make it to make sure that’s not , it’s time that that our weekly release schedule wouldn’t be hard. Mm hmm.

Rafal So that probably it will start on the on lap first. . And later on, perhaps. But , this is something for the next day or two to improve. I would also improve. I would like to improve transparency as as I said at the beginning of the segment, and I want to make product change doc. So while our release notes to be more user friendly and more marketing friendly so we can actually have those announcements or features earlier and we can, we can, we could.

Rafal Also, because what we earned for almost two years of sleeping Nozbe Teams, we are really, really good at shipping because we’ve seen the 45 versions of Nozbe in this area, so we are pretty good at it. Like finally, because he Nozbe personally, it was the whole process. And , we it was. , it was. It was a mistake to ship a Nozbe personal update like it was the whole week for for for me to work on.

Rafal , I couldn’t work on anything else and what we earned from this we implemented in in Nozbe Teams process. And it really, , I really like how it works. So , and I think I could I could slowly start improving this product changelog and even incorporate some stuff that we have like this in this battle each other or we are testing on Dogfooding and we are comfortable with sharing showing this. But we are working on on this.

Michael , I was I was wondering maybe what we should. I mean, I can help you with that. Maybe we should really use the terms.

Michael I see many, many companies, many small companies, like how they do that we should be more transparent. And then maybe as we mentioned, like we have already this new, you know, new segment in Nozbe Teams. So you can see, you know, the latest blog posts related to Nozbe Teams in the in the feeds. So you can, you know, read about new features and all that stuff. But over there, we want to add this additional, you know, changelog so people can see, , well, what happened since the last version?

Michael And this way they every week they can read something new in the app and not somewhere on the help bridge somewhere else.

Rafal , . And I was thinking that because currently we just have released notes have three simple points. Yes, the the name of new feature, but maybe I could add to it like one sentence, two sentences why you, how it can be used, or maybe even a screenshot or something? , , we will see. I need to shape it up. And , I want to do it like doing during this holiday season because I would have some days to work on.

Rafal So that’s that’s our that’s how our lessons learned from one year of using this product development process. It’s actually it’s based on Shape Up by Basecamp, but very we adopted my name is Lou.

Michael , . And but I think one of the also takeaways is the lean manufacturing like, keep improving the process, so make it really effortless so that you can ship effortlessly 45 versions of up this five weeks cycles that really work great for us and we have retrospection every five cycles and we see it’s a sweet spot because every retrospection we had, it took us like between 50 and 65 minutes, and we always have like four or five improvements. Mm hmm.

Michael And. Before we used to have like that to a session, but that took like two or three hours and we had like 15 improvements to implement. It was like, whoa, too much.

Michael , that’s the thing that we kind of forgot that we have to be more agile. And it actually it’s fun to be agile. It’s fun to improve things and just, you know, things are happening in the background. Things are happening automatically. You know, it’s kind of it’s kind of funny that, you know, in even in our small team, this whole concept of improving the process, which sounds really boring, is fun.

Rafal We actually didn’t touch the Horizon expanding month concept. I think that’s the topic for another episode in the future.

Rafal Everything is insufficient. , because Radek is constantly fighting that we, we we have a constant effort appetite available for improving this process like. Because when we stop improving, we we stop just ship. When we switch to just slipping, slipping, slipping, slipping. After a couple of months, we will we will have the process broken. , because it has to be maintained to be efficient.

Michael Yes, completely. So that’s why it’s it’s it is fun. It is fun to to see that. And it is fun to be iterating on that. And really, that’s why I really again, I want to repeat that, you know, stop every quarter stop and just, you know, at least. And we are re-evaluate, but also what Rafal said, incorporate constant improvements in the process. So like every week, basically you get better. Like every week, there is some improvement.

Michael Just today we discussed some of the improvements we want to do in this podcast, you know, production process. So every time there is this, you know, repeating process, see if there is something that you know, some long, low hanging fruit, as they call it, something that can be quickly fixed, can be improved, can be automated.

Rafal Earned for this Mighty Friday is perfect because very often like developers, if they have something that I know them in the process, like, for example, CI a machine that prepares Builds is kind of broken or inefficient in some way. They fix it on Mighty Friday and we just, you know, we just bought a Mac Mini. Speaking of her getting back to the gear and geeky stuff, we bought a Mac Mini M1 Macs Mini as our, you know, Mac server for our CI and for our library developer needs.

Rafal And it’s glorious. It works very well, and it improved the build build times of our apps like three four time fold. So this way, you know, when they do some something to fix it very quickly. There is a built there is a new app and we can test the new version right away. So again, it’s you know, these short improvements of time that you don’t have to wait half an hour for the new builds to to to ship, but, you know, 10 minutes instead.

Rafal It’s fantastic.

Rafal , and it’s very important because we want to introduce like native desktop apps for Windows and Mac. And it would at a time for that this build server to build those every time there is new change here.

Michael Spoiler alert I’m already using the Mac app on my on my Mac. It still needs some, some tweaking and some working. So Radek is on it, but it’s very promising. So stay tuned.

Rafal I can’t wait for 2022 because we have we have many exciting things still to work on and to ship on all fronts really like on the product front, on marketing front, on, on business front, like lots of good things. And I teased some announcements which we haven’t done and December and I decided not to do them. So just for our users. Stay tuned. We will have, you know, smaller announcements in January and then the big announcement and in the beginning of February, as we celebrate our 15th anniversary after 15 years of of Nozbe in business.

Rafal So there will be cool things in the pipeline. Really, next year is going to be something very can’t wait. And , I think it’s time to wrap up this up, you know? Yes, we were talking about my iPad Mini next time I work there, more efforts. So don’t worry. All right. So thanks for listening, guys. And remember tomorrow, what day is it?

Michael Michael It’s Friday, and it’s a Mighty Friday.

Rafal , so remember too, the only clear of your plan priorities for next week and learn something new or improve something in the process that you have in your workflow. That way, you will have a great weekend and great next week, because on Monday, you can jump on to your priority list and start getting things done. If you enjoyed this episode, please feel free to help support this podcast, either by sharing it with a friend or checking out our Nozbe Teams up, so I think that’s it for today.

Rafal Say goodbye, Michael. So just to just housecleaning before we leave, we wrap it up and in two weeks we will not see you. So merry Christmas. We are taking a Christmas break, so we will see you in four weeks. We are taking a Christmas break and I think everyone deserves it. So merry Christmas to everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in for being part of this show, for making this show and constantly reaching more people.

Rafal So we are very, very grateful. Thank you so much. And if you could write us on iTunes in the meantime, because you have some more time. It would be fantastic. So see you in four weeks at the beginning of exactly we will be recording on the January 13th, which is my daughter’s birthday. And then we will ship on the on the January 14th. And until then, you know, make your new plans. Plan your new year.

Rafal He was Nozbe to do it and make the 2022 your best year ever.

Rafal This episode has not been created in their office, because in Nozbe there is No Office, your hosts were Michael Sliwinski and Rafal Sobolewski all the links and Shownotes notes you can find on No Office fot fm slash 32. The whole production process of this episode has been coordinated in a project in a Nozbe Teams app. Control is good, but trust, transparency and asynchronous communication are so much better. Thank you and see you in four weeks. Remember to have a Mighty Friday merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

One of the Nozbe team "dinosaurs" - #NoOffice practitioner since 2013. Extravert, neurotic & vegetarian feminist with 189 imperfections.