Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love — Part II
Part II — The Right People
Every product begins with the right people on product teams
This is where companies fall short
Product Teams (Overview):
It’s all about the product teams
Optimize for effective product teams
Chapter 9: Principles of Strong Product Teams
Sometimes referred to as a dedicated Product teams or durable product teams to emphasize that you are not to work only on a single project or feature.
Sometimes referred to as “Squad” meant to emphasize that these teams are cross-functional (derived from the military concept).
A Product Team:
Brings together different specialized skills and responsibilities and feels real ownership for a product or at least a substantial piece of a larger product.
Team of Missionaries:
We need a team of missionaries not teams of mercenaries — John Doerr
Comprised of a Product Manager, Product designer and 2–12 engineers for regular products.
If the product doesn’t have a user-facing experience you won’t need a designer as much.
Smaller teams might not have a Product marketing manager, Data analyst and more.
Team empowerment and accountability:
Product Teams are supposed to solve hard problems for the business. They are given clear objectives and they own delivering on those objectives.
No rule says all teams are the same size. Different teams need different amounts of engineers. Use the 2 pizza rule.
Team Reporting Structure:
A Product Team is not about reporting relationships.
Normally everyone is an individual contributor and there are no people managers
People on the team typically report to the functional manager
Engineers report to a head of engineering
Product Managers can report to a head of product
This is not about reporting relationships
The PM is not the boss of anyone on the product team
Highly skilled people who come together for an extended period to solve hard business problems
Collaboration is at the center of Product
Product / Design / Engineering working out solutions together
This is not a hierarchy
Best companies have learned the value of sitting together
Co-location is best — be close enough to see each other’s computer screens
Special dynamic: Sits together / Eat lunch together / share personal experiences
The co-located team is going to outperform a dispersed team
What are we responsible for
Product teams need to have responsibility for all of the work
All the projects /features/bugfixes/content changes
Each team is responsible for a smaller but meaningful part of the business at larger companies.
At eBay — Team that protects from fraud or high volume sellers
At Facebook — Teams might be responsible for Newsfeeds or iOS native apps
The concept is highly scalable
Sometimes each team focuses on a different type of user or customer
Sometimes each team focuses on a different type of device
Sometimes each team focuses on a different workflow or customer journey
Sometimes you define the team by the architecture
There’s never a perfect team
We try hard to keep teams together
Once they work well together it’s beautiful and we try hard to keep that dynamic.
If people are moving from team to team all the time they cannot feel the ownership it’s harder to be passionate about the project.
We need to give teams a significant degree of autonomy
Minimize dependencies between teams (not eliminate)
Why it works:
Product companies moved to this model several years ago
Now it’s the pillar of the strongest teams
- Collaboration is built on relationships and product teams (co-located) designed to nurture these relationships
- To innovate you need expertise. Durable nature of Product Teams lets people go deep enough to gain expertise
- The Dedicated Team Model- The full team needs to understand the business objectives and context. Most importantly the full team needs to feel ownership and responsibility in the father outcome
Principles and techniques:
Chapter 10 — The Product Manager:
Make sure what goes on the product backlog is worth building
On the best teams, engineers and designers wanna see evidence that you’re idea is worthwhile
This role is important: Every business depends on customers, what customers buy or choose to use is your product. The product is the result of what the product team builds. And the PM is responsible for what the product team will build.
This is why we hold the PM responsible and accountable
The team is winning when the team wins
PM fails when the product fails
4 Critical Contributions You Need To Bring To Your Team:
Deep knowledge of the customer:
To make this explicit you need to become an expert of the customer
This is what informs a lot of the decisions that must be made
This requires qualitative learning and quantitive learning
The PM must be an expert on your product
Deep knowledge of the data:
Most PM’s start their day / half an hour or so in the analytics tools
Sales/ Usage / of the last 24hours
PM’s need to know the live and previous data
Deep knowledge of your business:
This means knowing who your key stakeholders are
Succeeding in the job of the product means convincing that you can deliver on products under constraints of stakeholders
Deep knowledge of your market and industry:
Know your competitors
Trends in customer behaviors
Understanding the role of social media in your market
Know how sticky other products are
You need to be substantially better
Your products will need to fit in an ecosystem of other products and add significant value to it
Create products for the future not now
What is possible is constantly changing
3 Critical Contributions You Need To Bring To Your Team Summary:
In some companies, PM’s might need domain experts.
Smart Creative and persistent:
Reach new audiences
Enable new business models
Thinking outside of features to solve business problems and be ready
To implement new business models
Pushing companies way beyond their comfort zone
Start by becoming an expert for your users and customers
Be willing to share information freely and often
Build a relationship with your stakeholders and communicate that you know the constraints they operate under
Become an expert on your industry
Establish a relationship with your product team
Product manager profiles:
Google: Jane Manning
Adobe: Lea Hickman
Microsoft: Martina Lauchengco
Apple: Camille Hearst
Netflix: Kay Arnold