Resources > Articles

How to Build High-Functioning Teams

Post Author
  • Kirsten Butzow has 20 years of experience at leading technology companies, including Fujitsu, Pearson and most recently Blackboard. She has held vice president roles for the past 10 years, allowing her to bring a strong executive perspective to her role as a Pragmatic Institute instructor. She has directed product management portfolios, created business plans and strategic product roadmaps and implemented many aspects of the Pragmatic Institute Framework. She brings this firsthand experience to every course she teaches.

High-Functioning Teams

High-Functioning Teams

 

Managing product teams without clear guidelines or a comprehensive framework is like herding cats. Product teams are made up of people with very different roles. And product managers, developers, designers, and marketers all tend to speak their own languages, make up their own acronyms, and have their own opinions and agendas.

If you want to build a strong, integrated, high-performing team, you need clear objectives, communications, priorities, and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each player. It’s often overwhelming. Where do you start? I started by implementing the Pragmatic Institute methodology with one of my product teams and continued using it as my career progressed because it works and delivers results.

I’ve found that building a strong, integrated high-performing product team can be boiled down to four major steps.

  • Create a shared future for the team
  • Develop a common vocabulary for a stronger community
  • Ensure organizational alignment
  • Establish clear priorities

So, what do these steps mean and how can you get there?

 

pragmatic marketing framework

 

Shared Future

Unfortunately, many product teams are guided by internal opinions and often end up with a product offering that buyers don’t want. To overcome this, the team has to be guided by a common understanding of what their market actually needs, what specific problem they need solved, who is helped by solving the problem, and what is the unique value of your solution vs. other solutions in the marketplace.

 

Shared Common Vocabulary

All too frequently, your teams will take on an isolated activity in a vacuum, not understanding interdependencies and realizing its impact on the overall plan. Pragmatic Institute created a proven framework with 37 essential product management and product marketing activities, shown below. As you can see, some of the activities are more strategic or tactical, some more business/market or product/technology-oriented. But, regardless of the type of activity, it’s vital to complete each one and hand it off to successfully manage and market technology products. While the framework provides a blueprint for all of the necessary product management and marketing activities, it’s also a reference guide that gives your teams a common understanding of the plan for taking a product to market.

 

shared vocabulary

 

Organizational Alignment

Regardless of how your company or organization is organized, you need to evaluate the amount of work each activity requires and allocate the right number of functional resources to get it done, and clearly assign who will do what). As shown in the example below, the Pragmatic Institute Framework can help you accomplish this.

 

organizational alignment

 

Prioritization

The last step to maximize team performance is classifying the importance of each activity and ascertaining how well your team is doing it.  Categorizing and ranking each activity enables you to easily identify resource gaps as well as areas that are over-resourced. With the Pragmatic Institute Framework, you can develop a heat map.

 

prioritization

 

Is it worth this effort? One of our customers, Wolters Kluwer, has realized a more than 50% reduction in time to market since taking Pragmatic Institute training according to Brian Diaz, Director of Product. Another, a Business Director for a Fortune 500 Aerospace & Defense Company, says “Pragmatic Institute training has ensured that we stay laser-focused on customer problems. We only build solutions to the problems that are urgent, pervasive, and which our customers are willing to pay for.”

So, yes, it is well worth the effort.

Author

  • Kirsten Butzow has 20 years of experience at leading technology companies, including Fujitsu, Pearson and most recently Blackboard. She has held vice president roles for the past 10 years, allowing her to bring a strong executive perspective to her role as a Pragmatic Institute instructor. She has directed product management portfolios, created business plans and strategic product roadmaps and implemented many aspects of the Pragmatic Institute Framework. She brings this firsthand experience to every course she teaches.

Author:

Other Resources in this Series

Most Recent

The image features the term use scenario being revealed underneath a ripped piece of paper
Article

What is a Use Scenario [ +7 Examples]

The purpose of drafting use scenarios is to help your development and design teams to start thinking about solutions. Context is the foundation of innovation, and you’ll be providing a tool that will be the starting point for collaborative and productive meetings.
Article

[Comprehensive Guide] Product Owner vs Product Manager

Learn how to separate the roles of product owner and product manager on Agile teams and uncover some common challenges with confusing these roles. Including a short primer on the Agile revolution.
Article

Use Scenarios are Stories That Provide Context

The problem with today’s user stories is that they aren’t interesting. And they aren’t stories. The solution is use scenarios. It’s a narrative. It explains the problem in the form of a real-life story.
Article

Benefits of Bundle Pricing

Bundle pricing is simply a strategy where services or products are packaged together for one (often reduced) price rather than priced separately. This article covers some benefits of bundle pricing followed by a system for getting started.
Article

A Quick Guide to Value-Based Pricing

Value-based pricing begins with knowing the customer’s willingness to pay based on the perceived value of your product. You can charge less than a customer’s willingness to pay, and they feel like they’ve received an

OTHER ArticleS

The image features the term use scenario being revealed underneath a ripped piece of paper
Article

What is a Use Scenario [ +7 Examples]

The purpose of drafting use scenarios is to help your development and design teams to start thinking about solutions. Context is the foundation of innovation, and you’ll be providing a tool that will be the starting point for collaborative and productive meetings.
Article

[Comprehensive Guide] Product Owner vs Product Manager

Learn how to separate the roles of product owner and product manager on Agile teams and uncover some common challenges with confusing these roles. Including a short primer on the Agile revolution.

Sign up to stay up to date on the latest industry best practices.

Sign up to received invites to upcoming webinars, updates on our recent podcast episodes and the latest on industry best practices.

Subscribe

Subscribe

Training on Your Schedule

Fill out the form today and our sales team will help you schedule your private Pragmatic training today.

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Phone
Company
Job Title
Location
How can we help you?
Preferred method of contact
Privacy Policy*
Map Your Message to Its Audience with the Communication Compass
Map Your Message to Its Audience with the Communication Compass
Ensure your message hits the mark. This eBook helps you visually map communication styles so you can tailor your design story to a stakeholder or business partner.

Download Ebook

Demystifying Data Projects: A Guide for Business Leaders
While data science is a competitive advantage, data isn’t magic. Learn how to make magic happen by partnering more effectively with data professionals. This eBook delves into types of data projects, sample questions, tools and methods, key points and cautions—so stakeholders like you can initiate data projects with real business impact.

Download Ebook

Define Ebook Thumbnail
What’s the difference between a successful data analysis project and one that falls flat? 

Before you begin working with the data, you need to understand what you’re solving for. Gathering context and aligning around goals with your stakeholders from the outset will help you avoid disconnects and deliver actionable insights. Discover the most vital questions to ask before embarking on a data analysis project in our in-depth guide, “Define: Laying the Foundation for Successful Data Analysis.”

Download Ebook

Download Now