The death of your dev team

September, 21st 2016Simon Tomes

Yeah man, we do Agile and Scrum and have stand-ups every morning. Of course we have the odd bump here and there. It's nothing we can't handle. Everyone seems happy and everything is awesome. We're like way better than other dev teams out there.

Right now you might think your product development team is awesome but I beg to differ. When was the last time you stepped outside of your team? When did you last observe your team from afar, without judgement or bias? How close are you to your customers? What people make up your team and why does your team exist?

There are fundamental errors with most product development teams. With hard changes I believe things can be better.

In this post I'll share why time is up for product development teams and what you can do about it.

"It's all about me and my silo"

According to Dale Carnegie – in his influential book How to Win Friends and Influence People – everyone loves to talk about themselves. Yet those who succeed have a genuine interest in others.

How isolated is your development team from your customers? Is there a dev team who speaks to a product team who speaks to a marketing team who is connected to a sales team and customer services team? Why is this so? Is there an inherent view that the product makers can't possibly speak to customers? Think of that for one moment. It's utterly crazy!

Product development teams who have a genuine interest in their customers will succeed. Steve Blank and Eric Ries's Lean Startup movement have countless examples. The D-School at Stanford – brainchild of IDEO founder David Kelley – have inspired thousands with Design Thinking. Companies like Moves The Needle lead the way enabling enterprise wide innovation with rapid customer focused iterations.

Yet the majority of organisations are structured in silos. Each silo has its own agenda and set of goals. This isn't conducive to building inspirational products. The matrix organisation set out to remove silos. Harvard Business Review and films like Office Space suggest otherwise.

Silo leaders meet to discuss deadlines, share progress and new initiatives. A non-stop cycle of meetings ensues and meeting fatigue sets in. Non-meeting attendees feel left out but don't like meetings. Makers wanna make. This leads to apathy and disconnect for those who don't contribute to ideas and innovate from the off.

There is another way.

Startup Driven Development

I urge you to break out of your silo. If your company has rules, go break them and build an internal community of people who want to do amazing things with your product.

Create an ultra-diverse team of people with interests in product development, testing, marketing, design, sales, customer success, finance and the rest! Don't just meet every so often to chat about things. Sit next to each other or stay virtually connected every single day. Share everything and learn from each other every single day. Ask yourselves "what do we want to learn next?" every single day. Ditch your existing team and make this your only team. Get everyone in your new team to speak with at least one customer every single day.

Try this 3x3 idea generation technique if you struggle to think how this might work. You don't have to go big bang. Run small incremental experiments and embrace learnings.

Tell the silo leaders and rule holders you're practising Startup Driven Development. Establish your why and build the greatest product and service in the world. Inspire other new teams to do what you're doing. Invite everyone to the party. Go leave a dent in the universe.

Over to you

Does this resonate? Is this something you'd consider trying? Are you doing this already? What do you think?

Main photo credit: Joseph Barrientos


If you believe what we believe at Qeek then we’d love to collaborate. Let's come together and make product development teams incredible! Get in touch.