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created 19 ideas

Understanding Empowered Teams and how they function



by Marty Cagan


10.8K reads

  • Empowered Product Teams. These teams are the foundations for business success. They serve customers in ways that work for the business.
  • Eradicate the old idea that "Technology" is in service to the business. With this mindset, your business will not ...


Give teams problems to solve, rather than features to build. Empower them to solve those problems in the best way they see fit.


Leadership is about recognizing that there's greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge.

Three critical differences between the strongest product companies and the rest: 

  • How the company views the role of technology. 
  • The role product leaders play. 
  • How the company views the purpose of the product teams—the product managers, product designers, and engineers...

  • The Role of Technology - Many companies still have the old IT mindset when it comes to technology. It's viewed as a necessary cost rather than the core business enabler. Technology teams are there “to serve the business”.
  • Leadership - Does not empo...

In traditional organisations, Feature Teams focus on features and projects (output), and as such are not empowered or held accountable to results. 

Empowered teams are given problems to solve, rather than features to build. Empowered Product teams create solutions that are:

  • Valua...


Empowered engineers are the single most important thing that you can have in a company.

Collaboration is at the heart of how strong product teams work. It's a combination of skills and mindset, and it often takes active coaching by the manager to help new product people develop this capability. 

Characteristics of strong product teams:

  • Tackling risks early
  • S...

To empower, decisions are pushed down to the product team level.

Three Snaky rules of Decision Making:

  1. If you see a snake, kill it. (an important decision that has to be made)
  2. Don't play with dead snakes. (don't revisit old decisions)
  3. All opportunities start out l...

For product leaders, the product team is the product. 

Leadership is about recognizing that there's greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge. People look to leadership for inspiration and we look to management for execution. 

To h...

  • Staffing
  • Coaching
  • Team Objectives
  • Deciding which problems should be worked on by which product teams.
  • Sharing Strategic Context 

The litmus test for empowerment is that the team is able to decide the best way to solve the problems they have been as...

  • Company Mission - The purpose of the company.
  • Company Scorecard - Key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide an understanding of the overall picture and health of the business
  • Company Objectives - Specific objectives the ...

  • Focus on the outcome
  • Consider all of the risks—value, usability, feasibility, and business viability. 
  • Think holistically about all dimensions of the business and the product. 
  • Anticipate ethical considerations or impacts. 
  • Solve problems creatively.
  • P...

Leaders must focus on:

  • Spending most of their time and energy on coaching the team.
  • Being self-aware of insecurities. Insecure managers have a particularly hard time empowering people.
  • Cultivating Diverse Points of View 
  • Seek Out Teaching Moments - Many, if not ...

The Purpose - The primary purpose is to help the product person develop and improve.

The Relationship - This is a relationship that depends on trust.

The Frequency - Should be no less than 30 minutes, once per week, and is sacred and ...

A product organization's team topology answers questions such as: 

  • How many product teams should our organization have? 
  • What is the scope of responsibility of each team? 
  • What are the skills required for each team, and how many of each skill? 
  • What are the depe...

  • You are frequently shifting developers between teams 
  • You must frequently step in to resolve dependency conflicts 
  • Your developers complain of too many dependencies on other product teams in order to ship simple things 
  • Teams have a very limited scope of ownership 

If the company is still using feature teams, as most unfortunately are, then the OKR technique is going to be a cultural mismatch, and almost certainly prove a waste of time and effort. 

In the vast majority of companies that are struggling to value out of OKRs, the role of leadership is la...

You need to move your product organization from a subservient model to a collaborative model. 

Four focus areas:

  • The Example Starts at the Top
  • Focus and Strategy
  • Establishing Trust
  • Deliver on Promises 

Three steps to be...

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created 11 ideas

The author argues that the traditional autocratic leadership model does not work for innovative businesses. Instead, innovation requires a different type of leader that can foster a stimulating and supportive working environment.



1.26K reads

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