Great product teams make great products. They’re not your average teams.

I’ve been a part of phenomenal teams and I’ve been a part of teams that have had many, many opportunities. I’ve been on teams navigating a now failed startup, on ones jet-setting and consulting globally for high profile clients (hello late-night coffee journeys in Zurich!), and most recently, on ones embedded within a very large organization.

I’ll start with the obvious and non-bleeding edge: a team and its products is a mini-ecosystem. (I swear, it gets better than this.)

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One of my favorite human-made ecosystems 👏🏽

This doesn’t mean there are A players and B players, and we certainly shouldn’t subscribe to the idea that there can’t be many star players on a team, it’s outside of that framework. No one is starting and no one is benched. What this means is that everyone has a wealth of skillsets they bring to the team to bring something to life. And they’re all interconnected. The most high-level way we start to do this is the concept of roles. Someone codes, someones tests, someone user researches, someone designs, someone story-tells, and so on. It’s an easy way to create a team formula. And it’s not a bad start. It’s digestible, actionable, and most of the tech industry is ok with it. …

Most products fail. About 80% of them.

That’s a partially made up number, but the best I could come up with. I’ve seen figures lately that range from 35% to 95% with most landing around 80%. Many products fail before they even hit the market, so as consumers, we never see them. This is also why it can be hard to measure — at what point does a product fail? …

Maybe not all of it.

This is a medium-lean glossary of WTF we’re talking about when we talk about building, managing, strategizing, or just thinking about software products. Because let’s be frank with ourselves, we’re full of it. (Jargon, that is. Obviously.)

There’s a vision, a value prop, objectives, a thin slice (a medium slice?), a go live, an OKR or many, a North Star, an elevator pitch, a mission, goals, iteration objectives (I thought you already mentioned objectives), and to many, many people out there this all sounds like it belongs on the spectrum of same, same, but different. That is, unless you’re talking to a product person and your brain starts playing with all the incredible distinctions. They’re crucial to understand especially if you’re on the team owning the product — developers, engineers, designers, data scientists, blossoming product managers, and more. …

I’m jogging up the stairs to the third floor of our moderately hip office in the Flatiron district, with my Mac sticking out of my undersized leather backpack and a $4 cup of artisan coffee with “just a splash” of macadamia milk in my left hand. It’s almost 10am and that means standup time. For me, it’s just one of a few standups I’ll have that morning. I already wrapped up one remotely with a team in Richmond about ten minutes before. …


Lauren Barrett

Product strategy + bouncing around the greatest city.

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