Finding product and engineering alignment in highly technical companies
Last week I was having a call with a product leader in a technical company. We were discussing the challenges of aligning product and engineering to drive a very technical product.
One of the challenges is related to the nature of the product. With a very technical product, it’s natural that engineers feel ownership. Additionally, product managers need to be very technical or fail to even understand their target users.
How do you find alignment and drive the company forward in this reality? One way is to follow the practice of stream-aligned teams, as described by Manuel Pais in the book “Team Topologies.” The goal is to use cross-functional teams where different members collaborate to reach a goal. According to Manuel, there’s one big advantage of using such teams:
(…) because stream-aligned teams are composed of people with various skills, there is a strong drive to find the simplest, most user-friendly solution in any given situation. Solutions that require deep expertise in one area are likely to lose against simpler, easier-to-comprehend solutions that work for all members of the stream-aligned team.
Also, all members learn from each other. Even product managers who aren’t very technical will end up learning from engineers.