Denim CTO Talks Product Roadmaps in Uncertain Times

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The Engineering Leader’s Guide to Building with Uncertainty

In this interview with hatchpad, Shawn talks about "building with uncertainty," which is a big concept in the startup world. Here are some highlights from the interview and you can watch the whole video below.

How Can Startup Leaders Best Manage Building with Uncertainty?

Shawn explains that by definition, startups are companies that are in search of a scalable business model and it's important to understand that what you initially believe might not be true. Startups (specifically startup developers) need to be open to experimenting with different technologies.

How Can Startup Leaders Keep Their Teams Motivated?

Transparency is one of our key values here at Denim, and for a good reason. Transparency is key when you are trying new things. It's ok to say "this is a bet, but this is our best guess about what we should be doing" because if it doesn't go according to plan, at least you learned an important lesson.

Shawn also explains that as the founder and leader, you only have so many chances before you lose trust with people. Being transparent with your team members is crucial for establishing trust.

How Do You Design Your Product Roadmap?

In the early stages of Denim, Shawn would think about a high-level product vision, but today he thinks about a 12-18 month vision that is much more specific. This is because when you raise funding, you know where you need to be at the end of that 12-18 month runway.

At Denim, we have our 1-year vision and quarterly OKRs which we often evaluate mid-quarter to see if they are still aligned with our goals. Don't be so rigid with your product roadmap that you're ignoring customer feedback.

How Should Startup Companies Address Technical Debt?

Tim asked Shawn about his approach to tech debt and he said he approaches it similarly to how you approach financial debt. Just like financial debt, not all tech debt is bad. Technical debt only becomes a problem when it compounds over time, which is why Shawn says that you never want it to roll over. Tech debt isn't always bad, especially when it's an investment in the future of your product.

Watch the full interview below!

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