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#401 – Always Be Learning

Friday Ship #401 | June 14th, 2024


In the past few weeks, we’ve looked back at our recent work and updated our goals as a company.

My recurring reflections have centered around the quality of our learning. Are we asking hard questions? Are we testing our assumptions? Are we adapting along the way?

Why such an emphasis on learning? The answer for me is twofold. First, we learn from our efforts to know if we are reaching our goals. What might be standing between us and our goals? More importantly, learning informs us, helping us adapt our goals. What have we learned along the way that we were unaware of? New knowledge may reveal new opportunities or challenges.

There are a few key ways I think an organization can learn to help grow the business and deliver better products. There’s no prescription for exactly how to do this. What works in one context may not in another. We need to be patient with ourselves as it can be a struggle at times—it’s a constant discipline.

What are some ways we can always be learning?

Always Be Talking to Customers

First, always be talking to customers. The best way to do this is by getting to know your customers. Engage them over email, a video call, or a private chat channel between your company and theirs. A growing product company can learn directly what’s working for customers and where they get stuck. Customers can offer insights into the types of workflows they are trying to accomplish with your software. Win them over with a solid product and they can become big advocates and a source of learning.

Always Be Talking to Each Other

Many companies have a diverse set of disciplines working together to bring the product to life: marketing, sales, design, development, support, leadership, etc. Folks from each area of expertise can provide a unique set of learnings based on what work they are doing and what they are learning from it. Teammates can exchange summaries and insights via documentation, video sharing, and demos. Team channels can be public to the whole company. Liaison roles between groups can participate in key meetings. The key is being able to exchange knowledge and see what emerges from all the insights.

Always Be Testing Assumptions

Often the best way to learn is to try things. This can bring a lot of uncertainty. How can you foster an environment where folks are willing to try things? What are the smallest efforts that might yield the biggest learnings to your hardest questions or riskiest assumptions? How can you do this in a way that doesn’t risk too much? Start small in scope with a proof of concept. Get feedback from 5-10 people you trust. As you gain confidence you can expand your test by improving your prototypes, allowing larger groups to use them, and gathering more feedback.

At Parabol, we’ve held a set of core values for years: transparency, empathy, and experimentation. While we struggle at times to maintain a mindset of continuous learning, these three areas are great places to encourage this attitude.


After having green metrics across the board last week, we see a slight drop in metrics.

It’s good to see Standups continuing to show steady growth over the past few weeks. We have started diversifying our channel strategy, due to the slight decrease in web traffic, to ensure our signup growth continues.

This week we…

…worked on a dashboard navigation update for org admins

…had a company-wide game to determine the best bird 🐤, and the winner was 🥁🥁🥁 the hummingbird

Next week we’ll

…take some days off for an all-company holiday to celebrate the Summer/Winter Solstice

Terry Acker

Terry Acker

Terry specializes in front-end architecture, UX strategy, UI design, and brand systems. He has previously worked for Quirky, BoomTown, and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, and has served as an advisor to several early-stage start-ups. Terry lives and works near Tyler, TX.

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