Some of you might have seen that one of our focusses for this year is to look at Labs and see what we can do to improve on the way we collaborate with our members when it comes to developing our products.
Looking at where we are today, Labs as it is seems to not be as relevant as it was. There are several reasons for it like the fact that the majority of the ideas submitted are duplicates, already implemented, they refer to things we would never do (like contracts) or fall under the umbrella of help requests and bug fixes.
Moreover, the way our product teams work has changed. Instead of starting from a solution they now look at a problem statement and work their way to the best, most relevant solution by gathering feedback and testing. As it stands today, Labs is essentially a solution generating platform and it is really hard to link the ideas back to the problem that sparked it. This means that if we do want to use them from the beginning of the development journey we will have to do quite a bit of investigative work to figure out what the member might have been experiencing and with some ideas it is really hard to get to the bottom of it.
So, where do we want to be?
We want members to feel like they have the opportunity to be a part of what is happening in the development world whether that is just being aware of what we are working on, give feedback, test or take part in interviews and brainstorm sessions.
We want our product teams to have an easy way that they can communicate what they are doing as well as have access to the right people at the right time to make sure that what we are developing is relevant to the people using it.
As some of you already know, this sounds simple but it is actually quite a complex project to put together. There are loads of moving parts, things to consider like prioritising based on the value for members, reaching the right members in order to get relevant feedback, the risk of finding out that our initial hypothesis is incorrect and having to pivot and many others.
Trying to come up with the overall solution now and guarantee it will be the right thing is very hard which is why I suggest we break it down into smaller parts as that would be easier for us to tackle, experiment and validate.
The first step in my view is figuring out how do we get members to know what the product teams are working on and have access to the bigger picture. The reason why I think this is the right thing to focus on first is because if we nail this we have the foundation for members knowing what is being worked on and have visibility over the opportunities for being involved.
So what we need to do now is to design an experiment, a case study and prove our concept.
We would need an already built tool because it would not be wise to invest loads of time developing something until we know what it is and how it would work best.
We did a bit of research and saw that Trello could be what we need to get us started. Some of you might remember seeing this tool in use before when we looked at what a product team is up to. For those of you who have not, Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process. If you want to know more check out the link above.
Now that we have the tool, we need a test subject, a product team willing to help us go through this with us and give us the insight on how well it is working for them. We spoke to the Apps team and they are happy to help us - you might have seen threads on the community from them as they are working on the Beta app now.
Our plan is to use Trello to break down and expose the development journey that the Apps team will go though hoping that this way members will get a bit more context around why they are doing this, where they are in the process and what the progress is. Once we have that, we want to see where it makes more sense for members to get involved or provide feedback. Remember, the goal of the experiment is to learn so we will need help from you to figure out what is working, what is not, how can we make it better and also how do we bring it all together while still allowing the product team time to actually develop the feature.
I will be teaming up with @amy_b_d on this one and our job would be to keep close to both you and the product team, pass feedback on from each side and help reach a solution that works for everyone.
In terms of next steps, even though the experiment itself will be open to everyone, we would probably need to see who is interested in helping out in the background and find a place for us to coordinate, maybe in the Labs group? That way we make the most out of it.
This is where we are with Labs at the moment and our ideas of how we can embark on this journey. Now over to you.