3 rhythms of product development orgs (evidence-based)

May 2024 2 min read

Acknowledging the pace of your organization helps understand where are you in the spectrum and think through, how does it fit you.

Observing product development organizations for 15 years gave me a good perspective on how they operate in terms of pace. More precisely - how often news appear and how fast changes are expected.

I identified 3 groups of organizational pace:

  • 1 day,
  • 1 week,
  • 1 month.

Means you either should deliver over this time period or internal situation changes with this cadence.

It was a time where jumping into a new idea didn't make sense as new ideas arrived approximately each 2 weeks, so by the time you made a progress on the new idea, it's already too old to work on.

1 day cadence: never ending sprint

It's a productive for doing many repetitive activities of the same nature: demo calls, standardized PoCs, articles writing.

God bless your wellbeing, if you like to run until you drop, you'd enjoy. People don't take vacations longer than 2 days in 3 years. Passive aggressive communication with notes of cynicism is a way for employees to communicate that something is wrong there.

1 day cadence example

It was an American πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ scale-up. Owners were making money in the first place so that organizational work and processes were treated as a third-class citizens. Hiring and firing was done on a whim. It felt like the organization is something that no one loves, owners included. It existed as a money making machine or a something to be sold.

"Thinking is good but warp on speed". Meant, thinking is for losers, run!

1 week cadence: marathon

This pace allows both planning and action, sometimes observing results, if feedback cycle is quick. Unexpected events could be absorbed. Higher-paced days can be balanced with slower-paced ones. I scoped chunk of work with end result can be delivered.

1 week cadence example

It was a Ukrainian πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ product development organization with 30 members. One flagship product that made it shine. One flagship product, 1st worldwide in a competitive category. Top-level colleagues, Aeron chairs, full-package of benefits could be imagined. Some politics but more for fun as top-management was healthy.

No one would want to leave this place on his/her own.

1 month cadence: promenade

With this pace one has a lot of time on it's own to test and try many things, before it's time to present progress. It could be either boring or calm, depends on the point of view. This pace allows a good time for thinking through many ideas and options before getting into action.

1 month cadence example

It was in Norway πŸ‡³πŸ‡΄ where rather often, a reply on email was expected within 1 month. If it's a job search, 3-4 months is OK, makes up exactly 3-4 feedback cycles. People are nice and never stressed out. Meaningful conversations are expected, quality is taken care of.

No pressure, you'd have 2 years to find out how things work here.

Recently, I read a post about a guy who decided to go to 6-months unpaid leave to steam-off after working from 8 to 20. It's an extreme example with overtimes. It's harder to spot from within that the pace is too fast when working hours are fine and colleagues are nice. People tend to blame ourselves for underperformance which could not be the case.