Kevin Rose, de Digg co-founder and a venture capitalist, once said, “A team that stands behind a vision will move mountains.” This statement is true. To build a successful product you have to navigate through uncertainties and for that you need a clear product vision.
When you have a development team aligned with the product vision, communication becomes easier and there is less reliance on key stakeholders as it empowers team members to make decisions. Such teams think more about improving feature adoption, customer engagement, and delivering product-centric results, which reduces iterations and production costs, refines time to market, and helps achieve business milestones.
Just think of the COVID-19 pandemic. Startups suffered from communication overhead, high failure rates, decreased morale and struggled with productivity issues.
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However, startups with aligned product teams maintained their productivity and inspired innovations the same way they used to because they understood the “why” of building a product.
The success of a product depends on the dedication of the team building it.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve built about 30 startup products and led product teams of three to 150 people. Based on this experience, I’ve established four rules that I always follow to keep my product teams aligned with the product vision.
Map individual ambitions with product needs
The success of a product depends on the dedication of the team building it. To reach milestones, you need talented individuals who are as committed to the product vision as you are, or you could end up with people with skills but no sense of ownership.
To avoid that, you need to look at each individual’s aspirations and compare them to what the product needs. You have to maintain a good balance between the two to improve the quality of the team without sacrificing an inch on the level of dedication.
This is what I do during my interactions with developers. I always try to understand what developers want to do and how they see growth.
I often get feedback along the lines of:
- I want to learn the bootstrapping process.
- I want to learn about new technologies.
- I want to handle the scaling of a product.
- I want to become a full stack engineer.
- I want exposure to an architectural pattern like Microservices.
Tracking and addressing these ambitions makes it easier to build product teams with high morale, high engagement, and better alignment with product vision. At the same time, individuals begin to cultivate a sense of ownership of the product. Such teams are unaffected by uncertain times and face minimal attrition issues.