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Thought Leadership

Activity Streams Are Not Updates

CI/CD has taken off and teams are shipping fast. Weekly, daily and even hourly. This new level of speed leaves other teams feeling like every time they turn around something has changed with the product they sell, market, and support. If you're not on the team producing the work it's easy to get left behind by all the changes.

Maybe your team has looked at solving this issue. "We have an internal slack bot for product updates. It pings the channel after deployments..." or, "Everyone has access to our Jira..."

Unfortunately, this eventually turns in to, "...I left the product updates channel because it was too noisy." and, "...I can never find what I'm looking for in Jira.."

These quick fixes suffer from the same fundamental flaw — activity streams are not updates. It's like getting nationwide, hourly weather updates when all you want to know is if it's raining tomorrow morning. In Portland.

These quick fixes are alluring and allow you to make a continuous improvement for the business that, at least on the surface, benefits everyone. A few clicks to add some users... a new webhook endpoint... and voilà! You've surfaced the details of your product changes and to everyone who needs to know.

But somehow it still feels broken. Different teams need to know different things at different times. There's no common language. Pings from deployment bots are hard to parse. Digging through a project tracker is a chore. And on and on.

At this point you have a few options:

  1. Deal with slack noise in servitude to FOMO
  2. Spend hours searching for things in project management tools
  3. Go back to not knowing whats changing and when

These are the problems we've gotten used to. As feature set, company size, and dev speed grow this problem only gets worse.

A step towards giving other teams visibility into whats changing is a step in the right direction but it's only the first step. This visibility needs curation of what's actually important. It needs to be mindful of your attention. It needs to factor in timing and provide context when needed. It needs to cater to the level of specificity people care about depending on the change.

Feature work and projects warrant a communication layer on top of what's changing — not a dump of what happened in the project or code deploy. Teams need a way to interact with changes that are important to them.

This fix is not so quick. It takes a change in behavior. But a small change in behavior at the beginning has an outsized impact along the way. When everyone is in the loop at the right time, at the right fidelity — Launches are amplified. New features are adopted at a higher clip. Marketers have time to tell the story. Support teams aren't caught by surprise. And your external product change communications feel like a scheduled press conference instead of a last minute book report.

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