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Product Leadership by Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw, Richard Banfield

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Chapter 7. The Emerging Organization

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The Biggest Challenges for Emerging Product Leaders

A key challenge as a company grows from a nascent startup to an emerging organization is to manage the growth of the team. This doesn’t only mean ensuring that the right people are coming on board, but also managing the transition from a small team—with little or no communication overhead—to a larger team that requires explicit, thoughtful communication and alignment with one another and with the product vision. As the team grows, the biggest challenge might be maintaining a focus on the user, as more layers inevitably get introduced between the product leader and the customer.

Paul Adams, VP of Product for Intercom, agrees: “The biggest challenge by far has been communicating our philosophy and process to people as we’ve grown. Even our three core principles—to ‘think big, start small,’ ‘ship to learn,’ and ‘design from first principles’—they’re kind of easy to understand at a basic level, but the nuances are huge. So our biggest challenge has been to translate our product management philosophy to all of the new people who join. Because all the people who join have to hit the ground running, and we’re all moving at such a huge, fast pace that there isn’t enough time to cover the basics.”

This challenge is not restricted to management principles, but applies to leadership principles too. ...

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