Quick Fix Days and Hack Weeks

At Automattic we’ve redefined our hack weeks to focus on product changes for customer kindness: fixing flows, removing dead ends, and pay down technical debt.

In The big secret of small improvements Tal Bereznitskey explains how to improve “quick fix days,” where software teams take time to make small improvements. Those small changes can together mean a big win for customers and the business.

At Automattic we’ve experimented with both 1-day bug scrubs in one team all the way up to a full “hack week” — so Tal’s principles strike a chord with me.

Framing the problem is halfway to solving it — I love how he suggests rewording the subject line of a software change to fix a bug as something actionable, not just a description of the problem.

6. Well defined. Only work on tasks that are defined properly. Prefer “Make content scrollable” over “Bug: can’t see content when scrolling”.

Create positive feedback loops — I remember during my days answering WordPress.com Themes bug reports and how rewarding it was to hear directly from the people I helped with a bug fix.

7. Thanks you. There’s nothing like hearing a customer say “Thank you!”. When a quick-fix was suggested by a customer, let the developer email him and tell him the good news.

This is the work: customer kindness — Our latest iteration at Automattic speaks to this customer focus as the goal of the maintenance work — it isn’t just polish or cleanup, this is the product work. We even have a fun acronym for it now! H.A.C.K. — Helping Acts of Customer Kindness.

The Starbucks Experience, In Stores Only

Tall Flat White in a “real” ceramic mug. ☕️

Starbucks Closes Online Store to Focus on In-Person Experience – The New York Times.

Interesting move from Starbucks in an era of more and more commerce being done eletronically and at a distance. The goal? To become an “experiential destination” and compete with Amazon by only being offered — via a human connection — in stores.

CEO Kevin Johnson says, “To survive, merchants need to create unique and immersive in-store experiences.” Though I tend to prefer local coffee merchants, I still end up at Starbucks for the consistency and convenience.

Does that include drive-through? What about mobile orders where you just swing in without speaking to anyone? In both cases you’d still experience the smells and sights, and possibly interact with a human. Which is a good thing — human connections build trust, trust builds brand loyalty.

Photo note: I’ve recently started asking for a “real” mug at my local store, to see how it feels.

Nugget of Goodness

Even in imperfect feedback there is a nugget of goodness. Matt Mullenweg

My job is to find it.