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Make your team product-first
I've written in the past about "product-first mindset" but I haven't expanded on what it is, nor how to make it happen. In a product-first mindset:
- Your designers don’t just build UI/UX, they build products. You have product designers.
- Your engineers don’t just build software, they build products. You have product engineers.
- Your PMs don’t just manage projects, they build products. You have product managers.
- Your QAs don’t just test software, they build products. You have product testers.
- Your researchers don’t just run user research, they build products. You have product researchers.
- Your scientists don’t just model data, they build products. You have product scientists.
It’s not where you work (codebase) or what you build (UI), but the purpose for why you do it: to build products that solve user problems.
So how do you get to a product-first mindset? Some tips:
- Change people’s official roles. Define roles as “your mission helps build the product by doing _____”. Building the product is the purpose for why you exist in the company. Seems simple, but actually makes a big difference.
- Get “product-building” as a team effort, not a siloed waterfall-like process. Squads participate across all stages. Shipping product is the team's achievement.
- Get the whole squad communicating together (eg: one slack group for each PD/PM/Eng/QA/PR/PSc squad). If they talk together, they trust each other.
- Get everyone designing the success metrics, not just PMs or analysts, or getting them top-down. Success measurement is a shared process.
- Celebrate the team, not the individual. It’s the product squad’s achievement. As is the squad’s failure when it doesn’t get there.
- If there is a question, doubt or uncertainty, discuss with the squad before going to your manager. Your squad is your TEAM.
Let everyone know that you’re not here just to code, design interface, assure quality, research your users, analyze data or manage a project. You’re here to build a product. It will transform what you build.