Revitalizing a cross-functional product organization

245cee81a9c424266e5e401d844ea881?s=47 Lara Hogan
April 24, 2018

Revitalizing a cross-functional product organization

The product and engineering teams at every company size have the same goals: positive team health, high-velocity shipping, and strategic execution. Yet we often get in our own way -- from ill-defined roles and responsibilities to toxic communication patterns, to well-meaning but under-equipped managers.

Lara Hogan and Deepa Subramaniam of Wherewithall will candidly share the approaches they took to revitalizing a cross-functional product organization in 9 months. As Engineering and Product leaders, they worked together to diagnose and treat issues holding back design, engineering and product management teams in order to ensure communication flowed better, inter and intra-team dynamics improved and the organization shipped more (and better!) software. As two VP’s who faced these specific challenges and more, Lara and Deepa will cover evidence-based tactics for improving the overall health of your product organization when time is of the essence.

245cee81a9c424266e5e401d844ea881?s=128

Lara Hogan

April 24, 2018
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  1. Revitalizing a cross-functional product organization Deepa Subramaniam @iamdeepa Lara Hogan

    @lara_hogan
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  9. Positive team health, 
 high-velocity shipping, and strategic execution.

  10. Yet we often get in our own way.

  11. Clarify roles and responsibilities Create living product documents
 and processes

    Lead difficult conversations Demonstrate mindful communications Join forces 1 2 3 4 5
  12. Clarify roles and responsibilities

  13. Seamless collaboration 
 requires clarity. Who does what, when? “Well,

    That’s not my job.” “Wait, I already did that.” “Uh, who was supposed to do that?”
  14. Lack of role clarity manifests as inertia, 
 chaos or

    ambivalence.
  15. Discovery Design Development Testing and Deployment Post-Deployment and Iteration Product

    Development Flow
  16. Discovery Design Development Testing and Deployment Post-Deployment and Iteration

  17. Discovery Design Development Testing and Deployment Post-Deployment and Iteration Product

    Manager Product Designer Engineer QA
 Engineer Product Manager
  18. Discovery Design Development Testing and Deployment Post-Deployment and Iteration Product

    Manager Product Designer Engineering Manager Data 
 Scientist Engineer QA
 Engineer Product Manager Strategy Engineering
 Lead
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  20. EM ∩ EL ∩ PM: Understand, own, and
 share the

    story of “why” Product Manager owns the story of “what” Eng Manager owns the story of “who” Tech Lead owns the story of “how” ∩
  21. Product Manager owns the story of “what” Tech Lead owns

    the story of “how” Product Manager + Tech Lead scope and estimate project work
  22. Product Designer Product Manager Business Strategist Data Scientist

  23. Defined roles, 
 ratified across teams,
 produce better accountability 


    and higher velocity.
  24. Create living 
 product documents and processes

  25. Without it, you risk 
 re-inventing the wheel, duplicating efforts

    and unnecessary disagreement.
  26. Product Workflow Documents Meetings Milestones

  27. Framing the problem, opportunity, and approach Discovery Documents Meetings Milestones

    Narrative Doc (aka Spec, PRD) Feature Kickoff “Discovery Complete”
  28. Based on the problem, identify solutions Design Documents Meetings Milestones

    Design Brief Product Review “Design Complete”
  29. Build the feature Development Documents Meetings Milestones Technical Plan Architecture

    Review “Code Complete”
  30. Test and ship the feature QA and Deployment Documents Meetings

    Milestones Test Plan — “Test Complete” Deployment Plan Pre-Deployment Sync “Shipped”
  31. Based on how the feature is doing, what next? Post-Deployment

    and Iteration Documents Meetings Milestones Post-ship 
 Feature Update Post-Ship Sync -- --
  32. Re-evaluate the documents, milestones and meetings 
 that will make

    your product development smoother
  33. Use your product processes to benefit you by sharing insights

    
 and staying aligned.
  34. Lead difficult conversations

  35. None
  36. Amygdalas are threatened by: • Receiving feedback • Causing someone

    
 else to freak out • Being kicked out of 
 the cool kids group • Someone else 
 thinking you’re wrong
  37. Amygdalas like it when 
 you have a sense of:

    • Belonging to a group • Progress towards a goal • Choice/Autonomy • Equality or fairness • Certainty/predictability
  38. We rarely have models of 
 (or support for) how

    to have difficult conversations
  39. Set ground rules for meetings

  40. My fav ground rules: Stay curious Everyone is smart and

    trying No open phones/laptops Vegas Rules
  41. It’s awkward to talk
 about your struggle 
 with another

    coworker
  42. Practice difficult conversations

  43. Create an environment to roleplay those conversations

  44. Find a great conflict mediator

  45. Be mindful when you communicate

  46. Poor communication 
 will dilute impact, 
 frustrate employees 


    and result in failure.
  47. Mindful communication is ✨magical✨

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  49. Reflect on the dynamics in the room 1

  50. Be aware of your medium

  51. Consider the room’s
 power dynamics

  52. Is this person in a 
 position to take the

    action I’m suggesting?
  53. Elevate the
 conversation 2

  54. Meet transparency with responsibility

  55. Assume best intentions 3

  56. Practice empathy

  57. Listen to learn 4

  58. Prepare to be surprised

  59. Reflect on the dynamics in the room Elevate the conversation

    Assume best intentions Listen to learn 1 2 3 4
  60. Join forces

  61. Disjointed things 
 happen in siloed teams

  62. Lead cross-org meetings

  63. Answer questions together, publicly

  64. Jointly lead meetings

  65. Write cross-org emails

  66. Roll out information to everyone in tandem.

  67. Share context 
 across the board.

  68. Celebrate across 
 the board.

  69. Our teams saw us coordinating and holding each other accountable

  70. Honesty + Candidness Trust + Accountability

  71. Join forces with your peer leaders

  72. Clarify roles and responsibilities Create living product documents
 and processes

    Lead difficult conversations Demonstrate mindful communications Join forces 1 2 3 4 5