The heartbeat of a company


If you release products, it’s good to have a cadence in your company. The cadence is a regular interval to bring products to market. Apple is famous for it with their yearly cadence on releases of most of their products. Also interesting to note that when an Apple product isn’t on a cadence like their MacBook line, the products aren’t as good as their other products.
Cadence is company and product-specific. Apple’s one time per year cadence works for them but doesn’t necessarily work for others. Everyone should determine what their own cadence is.
Another example is Ubuntu – the Linux distribution. When Ubuntu started, they announced they would release a new version every six months. Initially, they got a flack for that because in general, the consensus at the time was “it’s done when it’s done.” You see that a lot in engineering-driven organizations. But Ubuntu pulled it off and other open source projects have followed suit.
Microsoft was famous for not having a cadence at all. They suffered from that though. Windows Longhorn which ultimately turned into Windows Vista took a long time to come to market and development was even “reset” mid-way to limit feature creep and expectations. For Windows 10, Microsoft finally went on a bi-annual cadence.
Cadence is important for a few reasons. First, it gives the company a clear goal – we release on a particular date. Second, from this set goal, we get two things; predictability and focused decision making.
Predictability is helpful because it sets expectations about what to expect for everyone involved. From your own staff, your suppliers and customers, everyone can adapt to your cadence and there are no surprises. Any part of your organization can gear up to launch and there is no discussion on when that’s going to happen. Instead, everyone can focus on what the launch entails. Nobody is caught off-guard except from a dropped feature or two, but that’s ok since the focus was solely on the scope anyway.
Cadence also focuses on decision making because it takes a variable out of the equation. Development takes time and often it is hard to accurately predict the time necessary to develop a feature or product. By taking out time, you relieve a lot of pressure to deliver. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s easier to decide if something is in or out when the cut-off time is not under consideration. You can then focus solely on the cost and the scope which is often a more healthy discussion.
I recommend anyone in a product-driven organization to consider cadence. There is no right or wrong in the interval and it depends on the product which cadence makes sense. Even companies like Supercell famous for their Clash genre of games has monthly updates.

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