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Product Leadership by Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw, Richard Banfield

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Chapter 6. The Startup Organization

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Startup Product Leaders

If successful product leaders are a rare breed in the product universe, then successful startup product leaders might be the most exotic of the species. The tough challenges of the startup environment are often underestimated. Product leaders are expected to be both skilled practitioners in their market domain and have the ability to build and lead a team from zero to whatever milestones have been set. Most people prefer either building something from scratch or joining an established team. There are the extremely rare people who can do both. The smartest leaders acknowledge what they can do well and invest in that area. It might seem sexy to be in both camps, but trying to be all things to all people never produces impactful results.

Although we’ve divided this part of the book into the three broad stages of a company’s growth, we should also point out that there are definitely layers of growth that a company may experience within each of these stages. All businesses have some snowflake qualities; that is, they are all unique in their own way. Startups go through such rapid changes that our definition of the startup organization might not adequately represent every iteration of such sudden expansion.

In the earliest stages of a startup, things are chaotic. Strategic plans tend to be ignored, if they exist at all, in ...

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