Over the past few years I have been a part of various product teams ranging from startups (teams of 2–5, 10–15, 20+) and large corporations (35+). Each team I have been a part of is different in terms of how work is distributed and how the team works with each other. Each team size comes with its own structure and dynamic that has its pros and cons. Through this experience I have curated some characteristics that I believe make a great product team. This isn’t an exhaustive list but the following are the ones that come to mind.
The following list is in no particular order.
Strong Work Ethic & Craftsmanship
Building great products takes time and hard work. The greatest teams I have been a part of work extremely hard in making sure what they deliver is of quality and according to the product vision and goals.
Teams that work hard and have love for quality and craftsmanship end up building the greatest products.
Zero Fear Of Sharing Ideas
In order for innovation to take place there needs to be a constant dialogue between team members on new ideas for product features, marketing/sales strategies, design solutions, etc.
At times I have seen innovation slow down due to members of the team not wanting to share their ideas out of being self conscious. But what I have learned is that often the ideas that sounds silly or impossible often end up being the best idea.
When there is no fear of sharing ideas, there are more ideas to experiment to learn from and build on.
Complementary & Diverse Skills
In order for a product team to be effective I believe teams needs to have a diverse range of skills that complement each other. If any important skills are missing, product development slows down and hurts the productivity of the team.
We all learn on the job but a great thing I have witnessed are teams that learn from each other and build up each other and this comes from the foundation of having complementary & diverse skills.
Clear & Intense Focus On Vision
In order for great products to be built there needs to be an intense focus on vision and making sure the team knows exactly what they are striving towards.
A lack of vision or weak focus on vision may result in work not being worked on in a prioritized manner or even worse is work being done that has nothing to do with the product vision or goals set in place.
Enjoying Each Other’s Company
Team members that enjoy each other’s company and like being around each other is very important because anything that slows down the momentum and productivity of team is a negative factor and often times I have seen this happen due to members of the team not liking each other.
It isn’t true for every scenario that everyone has to like each other but often times I have seen more bad arise than good from a poor team dynamic.
Constantly Speaking To The Users
If you are building products for yourself than you probably don’t have to speak with users. But often times product teams build for others. In order for the product to be great and to ensure what is being built is desired, there needs to be constant communication between the team and its users which will result in key findings that turn into iterations for the product team.
I have seen product teams fail due to a lack of communication. Great teams make sure to always communicate any important issues that arise along with any details that matter even if they are minor.
Encouragement & Empathy
At times the atmosphere can be intense and stressful. When there are product deadlines, critical bugs, disagreement with team members and other factors that contribute to tension, encouragement and empathy goes a long way.
A team that cares for each other and shows empathy and understanding creates a team dynamic that builds a great product team that won’t easily fall and crumble.
Originally published on Medium by Michael Lee
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