Empowered teams are not assigned features to implement but instead problems to solve; and then are empowered to come up with solutions that work.
Why can’t customers and stake holders tell us what to build?
- They don’t know what is possible
- It’s hard to predict what will work
Product discovery is about discovering a solution that our customers love, yet works for our business.
It’s plain to see when companies view teams as there to serve the business, verse when they’re there to serve customers in ways that work for the business.
It’s plain to see when a company is just trying to please as many stakeholders as possible , versus when they have a clear and intentional product strategy.
More than a decade after the seminal essay Software is Eating the World most businesses have not transformed in any meaningful sense. And specifically not embraces technology as the business enabler it is.
Example Boeing 737-MAX. Instead of seeing its software as a core competency. They outsourced to to disastrous outcomes.
Example Tesla vs the entire automotive industry. A Tesla actually improves over time rather than simple depreciating.
Ultimately companies that do not embrace technology are ripe for disruption as well as getting far lower ROI on their technology investments.
Product Leadership: leaders and managers of product management, leaders and managers of product design, and leaders and managers of product engineering.
Strong leadership makes the difference between great product companies and good ones. Because leaders inspire and motivate.
Product leadership has four major explicit responsibilities
- Product vision and principles. The vision is the shared goal or North Star. Principles reflect values and strategic decisions that help teams when faced with trade offs.
- Team topology. How we break up work among product teams.
- Product Strategy. How we plan to accomplish the vision. While meeting the needs of the business as we go. Derived from focus, then leverages insights, converted to action, and manages through completion.
- Product evangelism. Communicating the above to the org. Everyone in the org must be convinced and true believers. This takes consistent effort. It is never done.
If you want truly empowered product teams your success depends on first level people managers.
This is why there are so many weak product companies in the world. Without the proper first level managers transformation fails.
They must be able to communicate 1-4 and have three critical respond
- Coaching. Single most important.
- Team Objectives. Where empowerment becomes real. Driven by strategy 1-2 objectives per quarter. Success criteria is defined here and agreed upon with managers.
The litmus test to empowerment is that a team is able to decide the best way to solve the problems they have been assigned.
This takes a strong manager to be self-confident and secure enough to truly empower the people that work for them. And to stand back and let the team take credit for their success.