I’m in the midst of writing my Lean Media book and today was working on a chapter about Lean Media feedback. Since the beginning feedback has been a central part of the Lean Media framework, and the last version of the flowchart had audience feedback coming back to the creative team after the idea, prototypes, and soft launch. But after the hard launch, the media work was fixed and would no longer be iterated:
But something was nagging at me. Why wouldn’t feedback still be able to impact the creators and the work? The reason for having a “hard launch” at all related to wanting to acknowledge that many types of media are effectively frozen in time after launch, a legacy of the “big launch” mindset and the fact that many creative teams move on to the next project after the hard launch.
But I had a big epiphany today: Media doesn’t have to be frozen in time the day it is released. In fact, the idea of a “hard launch” is a historical relic, dating from the time when it was difficult to revise or reissue a media work. Advances in technology make it much easier and cheaper to rework media in response to feedback, new formats, and other needs.
This is true of native digital media as well as older analog media. Earlier this summer I read a book dating from the 1970s called The Forever War that, according to the author’s notes, had two re-releases with significant additions (including a lost section from an early draft). Yesterday I read accounts of Star Wars being re-released at least three times after the original 1977 theatrical release. The new editions were digitally remastered over the decades with better effects, new dialogue, and significant edits (see the “Han shot first” controversy). Finally, Led Zeppelin has re-released old albums with new digital remastering, extra studio tracks, and artwork.
I also realized that every book and website I have released is basically a soft launch. Some of them have had major changes to the title or the content in response to reader feedback, as well as new editions that are largely driven by changes in the topics or products they cover.
A few months ago, I had an email interview with Bede McCarthy, Director of Product for the Financial Times. McCarthy is responsible for overseeing development of the next-generation FT.com website (as described on this Digiday article). He told me he basically avoids using terms like “launch” and “redesign” and simply views his work as iterating the site.
Revised flowchart: bye-bye hard launch!
So where does this leave the flowchart? I have basically revised it to drop the hard launch altogether:
I have a feeling the flowchart still has a long way to go: The book manuscript differentiates between different types of feedback (professional vs. audience) and I am trying to work out a way to incorporate both into the Lean Media flowchart as well as the traditional “big launch” flowchart. Stay tuned (and please leave feedback!)