10 - How to set up a Product team?

Create a cross-functional team to focus on specific problems and enlist diverse perspectives that represent your users and stakeholders.

Why It’s Important

Embracing diverse perspectives results in better products and stronger teams while listening only to the loudest or highest-ranking voices in the room can result in limited or myopic products that do not meet the needs of users or the goals of your organization.


How to Use This Principle

Establish a cross-functional team that’s positioned as a unified product team—avoid isolated functional teams that only collaborate when needed. Take responsibility for incorporating a range of viewpoints as you build your product. Solicit diverse perspectives both internally and externally. 

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Real-life application by Mayank Yadav, Product Lead at Facebook

If you don't have the right skill set, it's most likely that your product, initiative, or effort will fail. That’s why we have to set up the team for success to make sure that we build the right products and find the right problems. 

So what is the right team structure? The right team structure is the one that has the diverse perspectives required to build a product. I would highly suggest starting with a starter product team that you think is a balanced team based on what other companies and other products have done. 

Do problem discovery, starting with user research or data science. This includes finding the solution together as a team with PMs, designers, content strategist, engineering, and user researchers, etc. And at the end, obviously engineers and designers will help you go execute that. 

I personally have had different types of experiences. For startups, the biggest challenge was we didn't have the user researchers. We didn't have the content strategists. So how do you really set the team up for success? Well, the first step is to acknowledge what you need. So again, go back to the starter team. And second is, well, either hustle it up—become the user researcher, go and talk to the user, and fill the gaps in some form or another, or get a contractor. And as you scale, you will have this resource. 

Another type of experience is with companies like Facebook, or large companies. If you don't have these resources, the first step is to really call it out, slow down your product, and ask for the resource to get filled as soon as possible. Unless you have this structure, it's very difficult to build the right products because you won't have the right skillset in the team to find the problems and the solutions.

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