I’ve been leading product development teams for over 10 years in different industries (ads, gaming, fintech, tools) and customer segments (consumer, enterprise, SMBs). There are a few things have been consistently true across these industries, but particularly at scale.
I typically broken up my role into four different buckets:
- Principles: What is our product development culture? What do we value? What company goals are we supporting with our products? Principles and purpose are often at a “company level” v.s. a product level but these principles should be reflected in how we build our products and the end result for our users.
- Product: What are our goals? What should we build to achieve these goals? Why are these features impactful from a user or business perspective? What order (priority) should we build these features? How do we measure our success (metrics) against these goals? How do we align with other stakeholders (e.g. other product leads, marketing, finance) across the company? What are the right health metrics for the product and are we monitoring them effectively? What parts of the product should we deprecate?
- People: Do we have the right people in the right places? Are people arranged into complementary teams? Are those teams matched with the correct problem spaces for their skills and interests? Am I helping the people on my team achieve their personal goals, as well as driving business outcomes? Am I managing performance (both outstanding and underwhelming) effectively?
- Process: What is the ‘product development system’ that ultimately allows us to build great products? What are the rituals that need to be consistent across teams, and what can be flexible within teams? How do we encourage continuous iteration and experimentation on our product development system?
When running a suite of products with multiple product lines, the very practical things I like to spend my time on include:
- Identifying problem spaces that roll up into a coherent strategy to drive user and business outcomes [this is often the hardest].
- Aligning each team to a problem space and a clear ‘why’ for their work.
- Working with product development teams to craft their solution spaces and product roadmaps.
- Giving feedback on product specifications for large features (that require large investment).
- Giving feedback on products that are shipping (quality control).
- Acting as the pattern matcher/glue for related work across teams.
- Spending time looking at key health metrics, and talking to customers.
These practices need iteration and refinement based on the type of company (and culture), the type of product (e.g. enterprise is more customer led), and the mix of the people on your teams but being intentional about priorities and practices is always helpful.
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