March 12

Lessons Learned About Managing Product Teams

Last year, we ran over 20 different virtual workshops throughout the year. We’re planning a few more this year (with a couple coming up), but there was a hidden benefit for me, personally, in helping run these. I learned so much

I got to personally sit through amazing workshops with some of the top product minds out there — like Gibson Biddle, Sarah Doody, April Dunford, Bob Moesta, and so many others. One of the most popular workshops we ran last year was with the venerable Rich Mironov. Rich wrote one of the very first books on product management and now considers himself to be a product leadership smokejumper — parachuting into organizations that need help at the leadership level. The entire workshop was focused on making the transition from product person to product leader. Several things still stand out to me relating to managing product teams.

  1. Not everybody should aspire to want to be a product leader. Some people think of Product Leadership as a natural progression in one’s career, but it doesn’t have to be. Some people are great builders. Really great builders. But when it comes to managing people, they just aren’t great… and they don’t like it. There are absolutely places for these people to grow in an organization. But these people shouldn’t be managing product teams.
  2. Teams need nurturing just like products. When you launch a product, your work as a product person is done… right? Of course not. Just like you constantly need to evolve your product and iterate to your customers’ needs — the same is true for your product team. It needs to be nurtured and it needs to evolve, similarly. 
  3. Product team structures matter. If you’re not satisfied with the work of your product team, the structure you set up could be the problem. There are several different ways to structure a product team, and they all will impact how your team delivers on output, or much more importantly, outcomes. Structures that keep users away from product managers are extremely suspect.

If you’re new to product leadership and find yourself overwhelmed, please do give yourself some grace. And remember — the Product Collective community is always here to help!

Mike Belsito

About the author

Mike Belsito is a startup product and business developer who loves creating something from nothing. Mike is the Co-Founder of Product Collective which organizes INDUSTRY, one of the largest product management summits anywhere in the world. For his leadership at Product Collective, Mike was named one of the Top 40 influencers in the field of Product Management. Mike also serves as a Faculty member of Case Western Reserve University in the department of Design and Innovation, and is Co-Host of one of the top startup podcasts online, Rocketship.FM. Prior to Product Collective, Mike spent the past 12 years in startup companies as an early employee, Co-Founder, and Executive. Mike's businesses and products have been featured in national media outlets such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Mike is also the Author of Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of us, one of the top startup books on Amazon.


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