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Building and Scaling
a Product Team
Rich Mironov
Brainmates / Sydney
1 March 2018
1
1. Why We Need Product Management
2. Hiring Your First Product Manager
3. Product Organizations
4. How Big is Big?
Agenda
Founders and exec teams rewarded for shortest
path to short-term revenue
We balance enthusiasm with market honesty
• Marke...
Context, conversations, market view,
priorities, problem statements,
roadmaps, epics, user stories,
backlogs, personas…
pr...
Customers are experts
in what they want to
achieve, not how to
achieve it.
- Alex Osterwalder
• Business cases (1980’s)
• Cross-functional teams (1990’s)
• Agile development (2000’s)
• Clearer problem understanding,
...
We don’t “gather requirements”
• Teams frame problems
• Collectively find elegant
solutions
• Earn customer trust, love,
r...
1. Why We Need Product Management
2. Hiring Your First Product Manager
3. Product Organizations
4. What Heads of Product D...
Someone “Plays” Product Manager
CEO
CTO
DevDev/UX
Dev/Build
Startup Don’t Have Org Charts Or
Formal Processes
Pitch, funding, biz
model, vision, BD,
sales...
• N2
employee conversations
• Surprise customer
commitments
• Costly sales one-offs
• Pricing & packaging
• “I bet hundred...
• 12-25 employees
• Complexity outgrowing founders
• Sales pressure warping product resolve
• Need scalability, less reven...
• Need
• 3+ years experience as actual product manager,
with product manager title, on revenue products
• Not substitutes
...
• CEO or VP Sales stays primary
source of customer insights
• Daily “Can’t we just…?”
• Unsuccessful PM lobbying for
• Bro...
1. Why We Need Product Management
2. Hiring Your First Product Manager
3. Product Organizations
4. What Heads of Product D...
Handoffs Are the Enemy of Insight
Reducing Distance
Product
Owner
Dev
Team
Biz Prod
Mgr
Users &
Custs
Dev
Team
Prod Mgr
Users &
Custs
Dev
Team
Users &
Custs...
Stable, complete
devt team
Users
(custs)
Prod
Mgr
Value/Functional Area
Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning
conversatio...
Learning conversations, problem
definition, solutions
Users
(custs)
Requirements
Product Structure I Don’t Like
Prod
Line ...
Requirements
Product Structure I Don’t Like
Stable,
complete devt
team
Team
rotates
Prod
Mgr
Users
(custs)
Stable,
complet...
• Write/accept/prioritize stories
• Available to team at all times
BUT
• Proxies define needs
• No time, training or rewar...
“The Business”
Product Structure I Hate
CIO
Project team
from pool
BA
Project team
from pool
Tech
PM
Project team
from poo...
1. Why We Need Product Management
2. Hiring Your First Product Manager
3. Product Organizations
4. How Big is Big?
Agenda
Largest practical product organization might be…
• 1 VP PM, 4 Dir PMs, 16 PMs
• 1 VP Eng, 4 Eng Dirs, 16 functional manage...
• Cognitive load, dependencies, discovery,
complexity à waterfall
• Impossibility of fully spec’ing large systems
• Delive...
1. Need for product management is
not obvious
2. Hire for product experience
3. Product managers own real market
value and...
Rich Mironov
Mironov Consulting
San Francisco, CA, USA
www.mironov.com
+1-650-315-7394
rich@mironov.com
@richmironov
28
 Building and Scaling a Product Team
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Building and Scaling a Product Team

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Building and scaling a product team is a challenge that every successful product company faces.  Brainmates hosted this Sydney AU meetup where we talked about:
- When and how does a startup hire its first product manager?
- Division of labor: how do we grow from one to three to many product folks?
- End-to-end management of product elements/features, or product owner and business owner roles?
- How big is too big?

Published in: Business
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Building and Scaling a Product Team

  1. 1. Building and Scaling a Product Team Rich Mironov Brainmates / Sydney 1 March 2018 1
  2. 2. 1. Why We Need Product Management 2. Hiring Your First Product Manager 3. Product Organizations 4. How Big is Big? Agenda
  3. 3. Founders and exec teams rewarded for shortest path to short-term revenue We balance enthusiasm with market honesty • Market fit, whole product, real value • Segments/scalable revenue vs. deals • Represent customers and company-as-a- whole Why Do We Need Product Management?
  4. 4. Context, conversations, market view, priorities, problem statements, roadmaps, epics, user stories, backlogs, personas… product bits Revenue forecasts, commitments, roadmaps, strategy budgets, staff, targets “ input & feedback” Sellable stories, segmentation, messages, benefits/features, pricing, demos… Markets & CustomersDevelopment Marketing & Sales Executives Product Management What Does a Product Manager Do? 4
  5. 5. Customers are experts in what they want to achieve, not how to achieve it. - Alex Osterwalder
  6. 6. • Business cases (1980’s) • Cross-functional teams (1990’s) • Agile development (2000’s) • Clearer problem understanding, better solutioning (1990’s-2000’s) • Jobs To Be Done, customer development, validation, user journeys, design thinking… Where’s Our Product Leverage?
  7. 7. We don’t “gather requirements” • Teams frame problems • Collectively find elegant solutions • Earn customer trust, love, renewals, referrals Problem-Framing and Solution Design are Contact Team Sports
  8. 8. 1. Why We Need Product Management 2. Hiring Your First Product Manager 3. Product Organizations 4. What Heads of Product Do Agenda
  9. 9. Someone “Plays” Product Manager
  10. 10. CEO CTO DevDev/UX Dev/Build Startup Don’t Have Org Charts Or Formal Processes Pitch, funding, biz model, vision, BD, sales, marketing, PR, legal, office space, payroll Architecture, code, hiring, customer pitches, hiring, code, resolve tech disputes… Front end, code, UX/UI, mobile client, code, “how it works,” user support Back end, code, cloud, data & APIs, code, security, code, performance, code… Code, repository, build, code, backup, platforms, testbed…
  11. 11. • N2 employee conversations • Surprise customer commitments • Costly sales one-offs • Pricing & packaging • “I bet hundreds of customers want that” Problems At Scale
  12. 12. • 12-25 employees • Complexity outgrowing founders • Sales pressure warping product resolve • Need scalability, less revenue friction • Focus, focus, focus, focus When to Hire Your First Product Manager
  13. 13. • Need • 3+ years experience as actual product manager, with product manager title, on revenue products • Not substitutes • SME or deep technical expert • Eager volunteer from another role • Scrum master/project manager • Product Management certificate • “I did something just like that” Choosing Your First Product Manager
  14. 14. • CEO or VP Sales stays primary source of customer insights • Daily “Can’t we just…?” • Unsuccessful PM lobbying for • Broad segment needs • Outcomes for users • Repeatable, low-friction products • Clear commitment process Top Failure Mode
  15. 15. 1. Why We Need Product Management 2. Hiring Your First Product Manager 3. Product Organizations 4. What Heads of Product Do Agenda
  16. 16. Handoffs Are the Enemy of Insight
  17. 17. Reducing Distance Product Owner Dev Team Biz Prod Mgr Users & Custs Dev Team Prod Mgr Users & Custs Dev Team Users & Custs Prod Mgr Dev Team Sales & Mktg Our CustsProduct Dev Team Gartner Their Custs Product
  18. 18. Stable, complete devt team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Product Structure I Like Prod Line Dir Stable, complete devt team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Stable, complete devt team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Stable, complete devt team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Value/Functional Area Frequent, in-depth, non-sales learning conversations Devt Dir
  19. 19. Learning conversations, problem definition, solutions Users (custs) Requirements Product Structure I Don’t Like Prod Line Dir Stable, complete devt team Users (custs) Prod Mgr Stable, complete devt team Prod Mgr Stable, complete devt team Prod Mgr
  20. 20. Requirements Product Structure I Don’t Like Stable, complete devt team Team rotates Prod Mgr Users (custs) Stable, complete devt team Prod Owner Mkt Mgr Users (custs) Stable, complete devt team Prod Mgr Prod Mgr Users (custs)
  21. 21. • Write/accept/prioritize stories • Available to team at all times BUT • Proxies define needs • No time, training or reward for direct end user discovery • Productivity focus, not end value • Assigned after big decisions Product owner is a role, not a job IMHO, Scrum-Defined Product Owners Are Set Up to Fail
  22. 22. “The Business” Product Structure I Hate CIO Project team from pool BA Project team from pool Tech PM Project team from pool Prod Owner Tech Reqmts Delivery Dates Prod Exec Mkt Mgr CAB Prod Dir Sales Mktg Prod Mgr Users (custs) “IT”
  23. 23. 1. Why We Need Product Management 2. Hiring Your First Product Manager 3. Product Organizations 4. How Big is Big? Agenda
  24. 24. Largest practical product organization might be… • 1 VP PM, 4 Dir PMs, 16 PMs • 1 VP Eng, 4 Eng Dirs, 16 functional managers, 16 teams, <200 total in Engineering org • Developers, designers, test automation, DevOps, tech writers, scrum masters/coaches, PMO… • Frequent team-level or group-level releases to live users • Must split larger product sets or problems • Separate product sets with separate revenue pressure • Brilliant architectural decomposition • Explicit APIs: supported and externalizable • Fully automated integration/performance testing How Far Can We Scale?
  25. 25. • Cognitive load, dependencies, discovery, complexity à waterfall • Impossibility of fully spec’ing large systems • Delivery plan > 12 months? • Discovery/scope creep grow with duration • Full system replacements/forklift upgrades? • Details of “legacy” systems never fully understood • Delay of real market feedback (revenue) • “Innovations” are less shiny 24 months later Huge Projects Usually Fail
  26. 26. 1. Need for product management is not obvious 2. Hire for product experience 3. Product managers own real market value and direct customer learning 4. ”Too big to understand” probably means “too big to succeed” Takeaways
  27. 27. Rich Mironov Mironov Consulting San Francisco, CA, USA www.mironov.com +1-650-315-7394 rich@mironov.com @richmironov 28

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