5 mins

Abiding by this six-week cycle may improve your production processes and help to streamline your vision.

Planning a startup company's next feature is no easy feat. As an engineering leader or senior developer in these situations, you need to know exactly what your customers are looking for. Moreover, you need to have planned ahead, considering whether your goals will still be relevant in the next three to six weeks.

Ironing out the trajectory of your projects is paramount for any organization. It is important that all members of the team know the direction they’re working in and the goals they are working towards. If these processes are done incorrectly or lack clarity, you can be sure to start seeing problems arise. 

Great communication within the team is crucial to iron out hiccups or issues, but this can only take you so far. In order to focus on your vision and the ways you wish to bring it to life, it may be time for your startup to upgrade its production processes.

Ultimately, when a team controls the scope and the execution, they will be empowered to succeed. This is the key that makes people accountable to each other, fostering the collaborative environment needed for greater heights of success.

A six-week cycle can be helpful for:

  1. Teams currently on a long technical roadmap who are in need of a process to split up larger milestones or phases into digestible chunks.
  2. Teams working on continuous releases or smaller projects who are in need of a process to help with analyzing data so as to plan their next steps. 

The six-week cycle

Adopting this process can help teams to release high-quality, small, or essential features. For many, six-week cycles could be an ideal replacement for often heavy scrum sprints, as it enables more flexibility and creativity. Usually, sprints have teams responding to changes instead of adhering to a plan. But, a fixed timeline such as this allows for significant breathing room; establishing a final deadline to work towards motivates everyone involved to be more thoughtful about priorities and tradeoffs. The six-week cycle is therefore a focused cadence of work, not a sprint. 

Generally speaking, the six-week cycle falls into a broader three-stage structure: planning, actioning, and reviewing. Different team members will be entrusted with tasks at each stage of the six-week cycle. Often, it is the product teams who tackle the larger tasks, with help from the engineering teams, who focus on breaking them down into smaller deliverables.  

Below, is a more precise breakdown of what this six-week cycle looks like in practice. 

Planning: Week one

The cycle starts with a meeting evaluating the current state of the project, outlining any action items to complete in the coming weeks. Engineers should try to put this in place at the beginning of every stage, remembering to assign every action item to a team member. 

If you’re intending to use the six-week cycle as a stepping stone on a long technical roadmap, keep previous action items from prior phases of the roadmap front of mind. This will help to inform your team’s choices and anchor you to the wider goal. 

Following your review, engineers should outline the milestones and deliverables to be met in the subsequent weeks. These milestones are crucial for defining the scope and tailoring the timeline. 

The milestone can consist of:

  • Building a new product feature
  • Solving technical debt
  • Improvements or add-ons of existing features
  • Starting research to develop a new idea or reveal unknowns 

At the end of the week, the team organizes a small retrospective meeting to make sure that everything is on track. 

Actioning: Weeks two to four

Now is the time to get started. The team will tackle the action items assigned to them in the initial evaluation meeting. During this stage, all engineers should work together to achieve their milestones. 

Keep in mind that you will almost always need to adapt during this process. Allow room for planning and estimation. A plan is rarely followed without severe changes, but its existence drives successful outcomes nonetheless as it provides a consistent thread to refer to.

At the end of each week, the team should once again organize a small retrospective meeting to assess progress. 

As the team nears the finish line of this stage (end of week four), every member should present a demo of what they’ve accomplished to date.

Reviewing: Weeks five and six

Weeks five and six should be used to fine-tune the progress you’ve made thus far. Here, engineers should work on experimental prototypes or any side issues that may have cropped up during the process. 

This is also a good time to get stuck into pure engineering work – work that can’t be written as a user story and is not related to the quality of the product. Pure engineering work might look like refactoring, writing request for comments (RFC) documents, or rewriting something more reliable and scalable – anything that digs deeper into accessibility or performance audits to help prioritize these elements in production.

If you’re using the six-week cycle to break up phases of a wider project, you should also set time aside in this last leg to cast your eye forward to the next phase of the wider project. The engineering and product managers, alongside data analysts, should take these two weeks to learn and analyze collected data from any previous cycles and set new objectives for the next one. 

Throughout this entire process, you and your team should be adjusting priorities to ensure maximum focus and certify delivery on time. If something needs to be fixed, you should give visibility to other stakeholders.   


Finding an effective process for building solid products is only half the battle. As mentioned previously, you must also always stay on the lookout for ways to maintain or evolve your team’s communication channels. When you learn to find an equilibrium that suits everyone, this process will be sure to deliver high-quality results!