22 December 20214 mins

What makes an Ideal Product Team?

Insights from METRO.digital Product community on what makes an ideal product team.

Written by

Christian Möbus & Ekaterina Terenteva

Insights from METRO.digital Product Community

In a highly interdisciplinary and international company like METRO.digital, knowledge exchange and learning from each other is of utmost importance for us, to collaborate in an effective and efficient way. Therefore, we have established and frequently run multiple formats to not only share information, but also foster discussions by giving any employee the opportunity to actively participate.
This ranges from top management Townhall Meetings with dedicated and not filtered Q&A sessions to so called Brown Bag Sessions, during which any employee can share their knowledge about a certain topic.

Panel discussions as means to share and interact

One of the successful formats is our panel discussions, where employees with different work roles share their perspectives on a specific topic or challenge. The audience is more than welcome to engage in the discussion as well, either by asking questions or sharing their opinion.

In this new blog article, we want to share more about these interesting formats with you and point out insights we gained from these fruitful and sometimes even intense discussions.
In September 2021 our Product Skills Unit joined forces and made it possible to bring different METRO.digital Product Experts into one virtual room to talk about what makes an ideal product team.
In the one hour session 6 panelists, ranging from Agile Master to Domain Owner as well as working in different units, for example our Customer and Engineering Units, exchanged their opinions in regards of key aspects an ideal product team should have such as critical responsibilities of a team like this and main challenges, which our organization is facing on its way to reach this team status.

Key insights from the event

The discussions including questions from the audience were fruitful and sometimes quite provocative, for example what impact it might have for a team to have a “solo star” like Steve Jobs. All in all, the panelists did a great job in building a solid picture of what the ideal product team looks like for them and finding a definition. You can find the overview below:

What are the key ingredients for a great product team for you?

• Skill set of a team (hard and soft)
• Team constellation
• Motivation / passion
• Being data driven
• Empowerement (both given and taken)
• Business relevance
• Common goals
• Experimentation (mindset & process)

What are critical soft- & hard skills and responsibilities of a product team?

• Being human
• Having a solid business understanding to be able to add on the business value
• Following the discovery & delivery process
• Regular reflection to continuously improve
• Implementing the strategy
• Following a roadmap
• Ensuring delivery
• Taking decisions within given constrains
• Being able to understand data & environment they are working in

What are currently your biggest challenges and how to overcome them?

• Having too many needed skills / responsibilities spread between too few people
• Missing knowledge exchange between the teams >> building product independent communities
• Speaking the same language (business and IT) >> aligning on terms and promoting courses etc. for communication
• Matching feature requests with the product strategy and align with the stakeholders on priorities >> Needs change management, visualizing the possible solutions together (e.g. low fidelity, simple sketches), experimenting on the solutions
• Enabling people to participate in different cross-team communities >> setting right expectations, empower people, leadership, having courage to say "no", align on the right goals together with the stakeholders, build a relationship with them

As you can see, we were able to gather a lot of different perspectives just during one hour of discussion with this format and also created a lively discussion within the audience. Besides just having this discussion and the exchange, the insights we have gained are also highly value for our organization. On the one hand, we increase the mutual understanding between different work roles and areas, but we can also kick off new initiatives and experiments aiming to improve our products or ways of working.

How to get started?

We hope that we were able to raise your interest in this great interactive format which, by the way, is quite easy to set up and run – even in challenging times of a pandemic.
You just need:
• An interesting and optimally a bit challenging or strategic topic
• A set of 3-5 questions
• A video conferencing tool like MS Teams or Zoom
• And not to forget, around 4-6 panelists who are willing to share their opinion openly and engage in a discussion

Now we encourage you to give this format a try and organize your own first internal panel discussion!

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