How to know if your team is failing

written by  Ryan Seamons

Building products and being a parent are both tough jobs that require immense amounts of influencing skill. Each week I share what I learn to help leaders at work and at home go from unsure to unstoppable through influence.

What I’ve been learning

I’ve been thinking about how you can quickly get a sense of a product team. One way I’m learning is by asking for feedback on LinkedIn and Twitter (would love your feedback as well).


In my research, I found a few articles anyone building or leading product teams should read. Here are some highlights:

Good Product Team/Bad Product Team (Justin Bauer, VP of product @ Amplitude)

Good product teams articulate their goals ahead of time and share the impact that their work has against those goals (good and bad) to the entire company. Bad product teams celebrate shipping only, but don’t take the time to articulate impact. They believe that looking at product analytics is the responsibility of the PM team only, not the broader team.

You Know Your Product Team is Failing — Do You Know Why? (Jonathan Nightingale, Partner @ Raw Signal Group)

If your product managers aren’t on their game and well supported, you will have a bad time. Not because it’s always their fault. At all. But because when they’re in trouble, strength in other areas is unlikely to compensate.

The truth is that I need vision from my PMs about 5–10% of the time. I need brilliant, focused, measured execution from them all the time.

Good Product Team / Bad Product Team (Marty Cagan, Founder of Silicon Valley Product Group)

What I’ve learned is that there is a profound difference between how the very best product companies create technology products, and the rest. And I don’t mean minor differences.  Everything from how the leaders behave, to the level of empowerment of teams, to how the organization thinks about funding, staffing and producing products, down to how product, design and engineering collaborate to discover effective solutions for their customers.

I agree with Marty that there’s a profound difference between the best and worst product teams. Too many leaders are blind to these differences. I’m excited to find a simple way to start to help leaders and teams become more aware of how they are doing.

I’d love to hear from you: What questions would you ask team members if you wanted to assess how a team was doing?

What I published

Focus on sales and client work this week, so not a lot of publishing, but a few tweets:

ryanseamons-1922613Ryan Seamons @ryanseamons

If you wanted to figure out how a product team was doing, what questions would you ask team members? #prodmgmt

ryanseamons-1922613Ryan Seamons @ryanseamons

You know when you watch a product video multiple times because it’s just so cool, they’ve done something right. @DescriptApp, looking at you.
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What have you been learning about?


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About the Author

Ryan Seamons
writes about more human approaches to modern management.

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