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The rule of seven: how to structure your product organization to succeed


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Slides Patrick Hoffman recently used in his discussion w/ mentees of The Product Mentor.

Synopsis: Whether you're the first product manager in an early stage company or one of hundreds in a late stage company it's important to understand different ways to organize your teams for success. In this talk we'll discuss different team structures and how to avoid some common pitfalls that arise as small group behavior gives way to large group behavior.

The Product Mentor is a program designed to pair Product Mentors and Mentees from around the World, across all industries, from start-up to enterprise, guided by the fundamental goals…Better Decisions. Better Products. Better Product People.

Throughout the program, each mentor leads a conversation in an area of their expertise that is live streamed and available to both mentee and the broader product community.

Published in: Technology
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The rule of seven: how to structure your product organization to succeed

  1. 1. how to structure your product organization to succeed The rule of seven Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip /in/patrickthoffman September 2019
  2. 2. great experiences creating and capturing value Patrick T. Hoffman /in/patrickthoffman @arcktip
  3. 3. 1. Understand your business
  4. 4. Understand your business (today) © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 4 Questions to answer
  5. 5. Understand your business (in the future) © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 5 Questions to answer
  6. 6. © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 6 Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna (1991) Frameworks can help Most products will encounter a “chasm” during their lifecycle
  7. 7. © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 7 John Rueter Professor, Environmental Sciences and Management - Portland State University Frameworks can help With growth, the past is not always the best predictor of the future
  8. 8. © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 8 Three Horizons Model by McKinsey (1999) Frameworks can help As companies mature they should learn to invest over multiple horizons * * Note: The three horizons are no longer bound by time because of disruptive innovation enabling Horizon 3 ideas – disruption – to be delivered as fast as ideas for Horizon 1 – existing products. — Steve Blank (2019) It’s not a funnel. It’s an hourglass. — Geoffrey Moore, Zone to Win (2015) Current Categories meet commitments Breakout Categories planned growth opp Future Categories speculative growth
  9. 9. A real world example(slack’s growth) © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 9 Images courtesy of Slack
  10. 10. A real world example (uber’s growth - rate) © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 10 Images courtesy of The Information and Quartz
  11. 11. 2. Have organizing philosophies
  12. 12. 2.a. Start with your customers and your market conditions
  13. 13. The same products to the same customers … just more of it. The same products to new customers. New products to the same customers. New products to the new customers. EXISTING You’ll be in one or more quadrant NEW NEWEXISTING
  14. 14. 2.b. Start from a ‘trusted’ model and who is on your team today
  15. 15. Example of a trusted Pod model P.E.A.P.O.D.(S.)
  16. 16. Product Management Product bridges Research / Development and Distribution / Growth. R&D Growth Product Management
  17. 17. Engineering
  18. 18. Analytics
  19. 19. Program Management
  20. 20. Online Growth (aka marketing and sales)
  21. 21. Design
  22. 22. Support
  23. 23. 3. Structure your product org
  24. 24. Example 1 Product Analytics Design Feature Lead Feature Lead Feature Lead Feature Lead Engineering CEO ManufacturingGrowth Eng Group Eng Group Eng Group Eng Group
  25. 25. Example 2 CEO CFO Growth Product Ops Data Design Support Product Ops Data Design Support Product Ops Data Design Support Product Ops Data Design Support Product Ops Data Design Support COO Legal Finance IT/Platform Eng Eng Eng Eng Eng
  26. 26. Example 3 CEO CFO Product Growth Data Design Ops Product Product Product Product Ops COO Eng Eng Eng Eng Eng Support SupportGrowth Design Content
  27. 27. 4. Understand Teams of Teams
  28. 28. Dynamic ‘A’ A A.ii A.viiA.ivA.iii A.viiiA.vA.i A.i.a A.i.fA.i.cA.i.b A.i.gA.i.d A.i.hA.i.e A.i.j A.i.oA.i.lA.i.k A.i.pA.i.m A.i.qA.i.n
  29. 29. Dynamic ‘B’ A CB A.i C.iB.iA.ii C.iiB.ii A.iii C.iiiB.iiiA.iv C.ivB.iv A.v C.vB.v A.v.a C.v.aB.v.aA.v.b C.v.bB.v.b A.v.c C.v.cB.v.cA.v.d C.v.dB.v.d
  30. 30. 5. Position your people to win
  31. 31. 6. Plan for scaling
  32. 32. Scaling yourself in Product IC 3 IC 4IC 1 IC 5IC 2 M1 M2 IC 6 M3 M4 D1 D2
  33. 33. Scaling Product organizations A B A A C A.i A.ii B A.iii A.iv B.i B.ii C
  34. 34. 7. Be ready to fail and adapt
  35. 35. © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 35 Reversing the Curse of Dominant Logic (2012) Plan to combat Dominant Logic Avoid lazy traps and assumptions that organization design is cookie cutter What worked here will work over there..
  36. 36. © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 36 Reversing the Curse of Dominant Logic (2012) * Note: you must balance feedback with vision Plan to combat Dominant Logic Avoid lazy traps … e.g. what works at Google may not at Amazon What worked here will work over there.. MONITOR TAKE ACTION INTERPRET LISTEN Feedback
  37. 37. Be aware of survivorship bias © 2019 Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip 37 Winning companiesFailed companies Note: unlike companies, the classic case for survivorship bias (SRG American B-29 bombers) had high numbers of relatively uniform entities (B-29) in relatively uniform environments.
  38. 38. Thank you Patrick T. Hoffman @arcktip /in/patrickthoffman August 2019