- How a product manager can help
- Team operating modes
Watch the video to see Mladen’s talk in full. Or read on for an overview of his key points.
How a product manager can help
When a company grows from a startup level and begins to scale it needs to reinvent itself. In a 10 person team vs. a 100 person team, there will be changes in how things are communicated and in how the company markets itself. Some teams are able to remain small and specialized, but they may now find themselves part of a larger organization.
Product managers in a scaling company can help by providing clarity on company goals. It’s important to define what winning means. Why is a team working on a specific task? As Mladen mentions, the target should not be to just ship products, but instead needs to be defined in relation to company OKRs. This could mean growing a user base by 10% or increasing customer retention to achieve a specific goal. Product managers should also be in favor of over-communicating.
Starting from the overall vision of the CEO, the strategy should be clearly explained as you go down the ranks to the team doing the work. Also, remember to play your positions. As a product manager that might mean delegating tasks and not trying to do everything, or getting help if necessary.
Team Operating Modes
Teams can be operating in one of three modes when scaling. They can be pioneering, building or optimizing. It is important for product managers to identify the appropriate team members to fit specific tasks depending on each mode. While pioneering, there is a lot of uncertainty and uncharted territory. This could involve building an MVP and having innovative ideas. While building, your team is developing a solution to a known problem. While optimizing your team may just be incrementally testing improving a key feature. These small optimizations can have a big impact on a company.
The final takeaways from this talk are that companies should ideally find themselves in at most two of the three modes. Product managers need to then ensure clarity, over-communication and playing positions for team members to achieve scaling success.