Using Kitemaker for cycles
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Using Kitemaker for cycles

Here's a short guide to give some hints about how you can work with cycles like Michael Seibel describes in his post here: https://www.ycombinator.com/library/4e-product-development-cycle-fundamentals

Kitemaker really comes into play when you have already defined your development cycle length and determined your goals and your product lead (* see note at end).

You can add your goals as themes in Kitemaker. The themes will be visible on top of the current board, making your goals visible to the team during the development cycle. You can add themes by pressing ! on a work item, or by adding a roadmap (press Ctrl/Cmd+K and type "Add roadmap", or you can click the "Add element" in the side bar).

Note: we'll highlight the hotkeys, but Kitemaker also works perfectly with a mouse. But we encourage you to learn the hotkeys for everything you do often. When using a mouse, simply drag and drop cards, press the "..." icon on work items to add and remove meta-data, and press the "+" icon to add items to a column.

Organized and Inclusive Brainstorm

There are a few ways to do this.

You can do it in a different tool (like Miro) that allows you to brainstorm in very free form, but then you need to move the work over to Kitemaker after brainstorming.

Or you can do this right in Kitemaker. You can enter ideas into the "Todo" column on your board, or you can add a backlog to your space (press Ctrl/Cmd+K and enter "Add backlog", or you can click the "Add element" in the side bar). Simply have your team add items (press C when in a column, or the + icon on top of a column). You can move them around by holding Shift and using the arrow keys, or drag and drop using your mouse.

Adding a backlog to a space
Adding a backlog to a space

To grade an item simply press E (for effort) and press 1, 2, or 3 for Large/Medium/Small (maps to Hard/Medium/Easy). You can also add impact by pressing I, which can be used to indicate if the idea has a Large, Medium or Small impact on our users.

Alternatively, you can add columns (simply press Alt/Option+C) for Easy, Medium and Hard, and move items from "Inbox" to these columns as you classify them.

Adding effort information by pressing E
Adding effort information by pressing E

Building a Consensus

If you have all your items in one column, you can order them by effort and impact. Simply press Ctrl/Cmd+K and enter "Sort <column> by Impact and Effort". Note that this will move easy things to the top.

Sorting work items
Sorting work items

When you decide what you are going to build, move them to the "Todo" column (Note you can press M, or , and . to move items and automatically move to the next item).

We chose something hard and something easy to work on
We chose something hard and something easy to work on

Clear Spec and Clear Measurements of Success

Every work item in Kitemaker is a document and a discussion thread to handle exactly this. To edit the document press D, and on an empty line you can enter / to see all the different options of blocks we support.

A work item under progress
A work item under progress

Working During the Development Cycle

When you have spec'ed everything out, your items will be in the "Inbox" column in the "Current" board, and as you work on items you can move them to todo, and finally done.

When you work on an item you can break it into tasks by using the "/todo" tag in the description. Each team member can then check off the items as work progresses.

Teams using Kitemaker are usually very collaborative so each work item becomes a place where the entire team discusses and thus a place to have most product discussions (check out our Slack and Github integration if you use these tools as well). In addition it gives you a place to share designs, files and relevant links.

Ending Development Cycle

When a cycle is done, you will usually do some clean up and start over. Typically you want to clean your "Done" column (press Shift+Alt/Option+A, or press the "..." icon on to of the column to archive all items in a column), and you probably want to either clean up everything in your backlog or at least archive the items that are no longer relevant.

* Note: We originally planned to build more cycle management support into Kitemaker, but our users didn't want it. They wanted us instead to focus on what happens during the development cycle instead. We still think we'll build it at one point, and if you think you would need it, then please ping us so we can have a chat :) )