The term “high-impact” gets thrown around a lot lately, and it got me thinking about what that exactly means and why it’s important. And if it’s essential, how do we achieve it as product leaders?
When we talk about impact in the product world, we usually mean a few different things:
- Impact on end-user experience
- Impact on business goals of the organization
- Impact on internal processes
All of these are worthy goals to have for any product team. Of course, any PM would want to have a positive impact on both the customer experience and revenue, as well as making their peer’s jobs easier with better processes and internal tooling.
So, how do we achieve it? How do we build a culture around these goals? In my opinion, the following pieces are critical.
North Star Metrics
Just like in physics, to have impact, you need to have momentum. As a team, to have momentum, you need to be moving in the same direction. This is easier said than done in a growing organization. Things are chaotic. There are contradicting requirements from different customer segments, and maybe even different internal teams. This is why we need North Star metrics.
North Stars align different teams towards the same goals. Whenever you are lost in the weeds about a product or engineering decision, you can check your thinking against a common metric to decide on the course of action. This clarifies the goals for every team member and will give you significant momentum towards the business vision.
Once you align to the business vision and mission, you need to figure out how to get there. Core values and processes answer that “how” question. As a team, you need to be on the same page when it comes to how you execute. This should cover tactical matters such as sprints, squads and specific processes. It should also cover values you want to aspire to as a team, such as how you collaborate, communicate, decide and execute together. These values will help guide you in ambiguity.
This is really a core value you must agree on, however in my experience it’s an important one to underline. Teams that have an ownership mindset tend to move faster and more effectively than ones that don’t. Communicating with your team to give them the responsibility and the permission to own their parts of the product can work wonders with results.
To recap, building a high-impact product team that collaborates effectively with their peers is key for a growing startup. Aligning on clear goals (the what) and specific core values (the how), and instilling a sense of ownership in your team will go a long way towards kindling a culture of delivery and impact.