Building an Empowered Product Organization

Defining an Empowered Product Organization (EPO)

I’m sure Cagan has his own definition, but here’s my own version. An Empowered Product Organization is one where everyone feels a shared sense of ownership of what should be on the roadmaps (click here for some good thoughts on Roadmap 101), and Product transparently owns what ultimately is on the roadmap.

Building an EPO

As with most of my articles, everything below is basically lifted from my first product team at Capital One. My manager, fellow PM, and tech lead implemented systems so resilient that they remain the foundation of what I do at each new job several years later.

  • Customer Service/Support/Success
  • Account / Relationship Management
  • Business Development
  • Marketing / Growth
  • Design / Research (if not already a part of Product)
  • Soliciting new intent from the team
  • Working with the Director to maintain a roughly prioritized list of intent
  • Understanding the tradeoffs made by Product in the feature delivery process
  • Helping coach their team on what’s been delivered, and what’s coming up next
  1. Bi-weekly Product Sync. In this ceremony, all of our Product Acolytes come together for an hour to introduce any new features they need, or changes to their internal prioritization. Given how often features overlap between teams, attendance should be mandatory. Features discussed should result in a specific decision by Product to discuss it separately, or do a live, mini-refinement (<5 minutes) to make sure Product can prioritize it appropriately later.
  2. Monthly Roadmap Review. This typically involves folks at the Director+ level, but allows all key constituents to review the roadmap, identify any gaps, and argue about any tradeoffs between one feature and another. Typically, this ceremony has been quite useful at identifying choke points, and rationalizing the value of different product features.
  3. Regular Product / Tech Planning. The frequency of this ceremony can vary by org and co-location structure, but this is basically a review of what we’re signing up for in the next quarter, and the true feasibility of it relative to dev resources and engineering priorities.

Thoughts?

Share your thoughts below! I’m curious to hear what has allowed you to build roadmaps more effectively at organizations of all sizes.

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Abhi Agrawal

Abhi Agrawal

Product Management, pizza, and podcasts.