We ship daily, and we don’t just mean software. Across the entire company, everyone is taking action that drives results every single day. We make things happen before we make them perfect. We believe every project can be broken down into small, daily wins. Over time, those small wins help our customers take massive leaps forward.
Shipping every day helps us start the customer feedback loop as quickly as possible so we can learn how to improve. It lets the customer see that we’re always listening and making changes based on their feedback. It gives our ideas oxygen. It’s our #1 competitive advantage.
Shipped is better than perfect, but that’s not an excuse for being sloppy or a shortcut around our high standards. When we ship every day, we’re honoring a commitment to our customers to constantly improve. But shipping every day is only possible when we have a bias for action. If you’re in a meeting and haven’t heard anything actionable, leave. If you’re wondering whether you should pursue a deal, pick up the phone and make the call. If you’re thinking about trying something new, try it. When you’re taking action, we will always support you.
“We focus on things that are useful. And we ship ‘em fast.”
That’s what we tell every candidate we interview. But it isn’t until their first week at Drift that new team members understand what fast really means. We ship at a pace most people find unusual.
Slower approaches to launching products are broken.
At Drift, we wanted to differentiate on speed.
We measure our performance by the consistency with which we ship work that’s valuable to customers. It’s the only way we’ve been able to grow 10x faster than other companies. At most companies, a website redesign could take three months. At Drift, we operate a hypergrowth speed. Which means we find a way to do it in days.
You might be wondering how it’s possible to push that sort of limit. But you can too. Here’s how:
Shipping small to ship frequently can solve a great many challenges, especially in software. At Drift, our engineering team starts each morning with a “Slack stand-up,” where we write out a list of specific goals for the day (which helps focus on what not to do as much as what to do). But this applies to any business: break big problems into small ones and lock in deadlines. A productivity hack that we’ve adopted is Big Rocks vs. Small Rocks. Every week, employees make their own to-do lists – a short list – to identify the most important tasks or “Big Rocks” for the week. Big Rocks take priority. This method helps us lay out a plan of attack to make sure we’re accomplishing the most important tasks first.
We work in small teams across the organization. This forces us to seek out shared understanding of customer problems, minimize the scope of our solution, and proactively validate our ideas (more on this in Principle #7). No borrowed resources. Limited meetings. Just us and the customer.
Don’t worry about doing a perfect job every time. We think it’s more important to get things in front of the customer, even before they’re fully set, to make sure we’re on track and keep pushing the pace. Ideas need oxygen; the only way to learn is to get them out there. So when in doubt, our CEO David Cancel says, just ship it.
We communicate early and often about the wins we’re creating for our customers, then show visible progress daily on Slack and weekly in our company-wide Friday Show & Tell.
It may seem counterintuitive, but even at this cadence, it’s not unusual for folks to go the extra mile to ship thoughtful and valuable work – in fact it’s the norm. This is the side effect of working on a well-understood problem within a small team and owning your work end-to-end.
You have to build an enduring culture first. Find out what principles can get you there.
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