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Release Notes Before Specs

Published on January, 2022
Kevin J. Hanna
Building Stacked | Hummus & Tech host

Here’s a counter-intuitive lesson I learned early on in my product career.

We had released a new feature and I emailed the whole company to tell them about it.

The following day a developer on my team approached me about the release notes I had sent. He was ecstatic!

Mind you, we had worked on the feature together.
So why was he just being excited about it now?

“I didn’t know what we were building was so cool, and so useful.
I’m happy we worked on it”, he told me.

What had just happened?

The team had the specs from the beginning.
It included the business case and the product goals.

I went back to both the specs and email.
I noted the differences:

The specs got the job done, but it was… boring.

On the other hand, my email was pure product marketing.
It stirred up emotions, it had user quotes, and was all wrapped in a solid story on how our users’ live would become so much better.

Plain as that:
Writing and sharing the release notes BEFORE working on the product, helps you align, inspire and empower your team. It even brings clarity to you.

I later found out Jeff Bezos asks his product executives at Amazon to do the same thing… so I guess this thing probably works.

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