Shipping products that provide clear business outcomes and customer/stakeholder delight, on time!
By Manash Bhattacharjee
Head of Product Management and Product Design
As a Product Leader, I have learned that three critical ingredients are required for building successful and collaborative technology teams across product management, design, and engineering:
- The Right Talent
- The Right Culture
- Alignment with Organizational Goals
By the way, my definition of such a “successful team” is one that consistently ships products on time, which provides clear business outcomes and customer/stakeholder delight — that’s a tall ask!
These three ingredients coming together, seamlessly, are especially critical when you are working in a global (aka remote) product organization, spread across geographically distributed team members.
Talent is extremely critical for the knowledge-based industry, which places immense focus on getting the right talent/high performers in their organization, as they aim to achieve 10x growth or product-market fit. The challenge in growing to a large team, from say 2 to 50, is that as product leader, you can interview each candidate coming through the funnel when your team is still in early stages. But after you achieve a certain scale, that becomes impractical, so you need to institutionalize a culture of hiring the right talent and removing bias.
Doing the following three things has helped me bring the right talent at scale:
- Look for the right attributes: a bias for Action, Think Big, Customer Focus, Execute
- Training, training and training: remove bias, increase the level of talent by raising the bar. (Amazon does that through someone called the Bar Raiser)
- Leverage tools and platforms: to streamline the process and remove the barriers to collaborate and move fast. Most of the hiring/interview tools and platforms are still legacy and archaic.
Diving a bit deeper into attributes to look for: Think Big, Bias for Action, Customer First, Execute
- Think Big: they need to think about transformation changes, 10x projects but grounded with customer/stakeholder pain points or delights.
- Bias for action: remove barriers and overcome challenges
- Customer First: I have been guilty of focusing on innovation and going for the “shiny new object “ and thinking that customers will find it interesting. Successful PMs/Designers can dive deeper to figure out what will provide business outcomes and solve the right problem.
- Execution: going beyond the lofty vision and grandiose plan, identifying whether the products were actually shipped and on time, and assessing whether it drove a business outcome or customer delight.
Talent, without culture, will get you an under-performing and unhappy team. So how do you introduce a culture of high performance and throughput?
Without culture, a talented team can become unproductive and unhappy.
- Lean Software Development framework: a combination of a disciplined approach towards Product Development (anytime the team will focus on max 3 items only, reduce wastage during product development and drive towards MLP by reducing scope aggressively)
- Independent PODs: (similar to 2 Pizza team ) that can make decisions without getting approval from 13 different departments.
- Foster a culture that appreciates the diversity of talent, opinions, and solutions but can drive agreement through open discussions.
Alignment with Organizational Goals
Typically when you go to a tech org and ask them what their priorities are for the quarter or a year, they will say something like:
- We will launch Social Scoring feature in Q1
- Re-platform in Q2
- Go to the cloud in Q3
- Do some innovation product rollout in Q4
Such a roadmap makes it very difficult for the Executive Leadership Team (or broader teams) to understand what impact these projects/initiatives will have on the organizational goals. Similarly, your product, engineering, design teams feel disconnected because they can’t tie up their daily activities or prioritization process with things that are going to impact organizational goals.
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results — a goal-setting framework) helps Product and Tech organizations in aligning their priorities with organizational priorities.
OKRs help in 3 key areas:
- Focus and Commitment towards what’s important for customers and business
- Align and Connect for Team work — getting diverse teams to come together
- Stretch for amazing!
In summary, even with all these 3 critical ingredients present, the final outcome might still be challenging but if even one of the pieces ( Talent, Culture or Goal Alignment) is missing – it is a recipe for sub-par performance.
Manash is a product leader, mentor and speaker in the digital commerce and fintech space. In his current role as eCommerce Head of Product Management and Product Design for PepsiCo, Manash and his team of Product Managers and Designers are creating delightful D2C and B2B experiences as well connected platforms to grow eCommerce for PepsiCo leveraging data, platforms and ML.
Manash brings in a global perspective having lived and worked in New York, London, India, Singapore and Manila. Manash has filed 40+ patents and loves to share his experiences through speaking engagements in digital product, design and innovation-focused events.