In later chapters, I explore each of the key roles on a team, but in this chapter, I explain the principles of a strong product team.
Product teams are sometimes referred to as a dedicated product team or as a durable product team, to emphasize that these are not created just to work on a single project or feature, or sometimes as a squad—derived from the military analogy and meant to emphasize that these are cross‐functional teams.
A product team is a group of people who bring together different specialized skills and responsibilities and feel real ownership for a product or at least a substantial piece of a larger product.
There are many ways to set up product teams (we'll discuss these later in the section People @ Scale). But in good product companies, you'll find that, despite the differences due to their unique products and circumstances, there are several very important similarities.
Team of Missionaries
There are many benefits of product teams, but a big goal is captured best by a quote from John Doerr, the famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist: “We need teams of missionaries, not teams of mercenaries.”
Mercenaries build whatever they're told to build. Missionaries are true believers in the vision and are committed to solving problems for their customers. In a dedicated product team, the team acts and feels a lot like a startup within the larger company, and that's very much the intention.