How to keep your development team aligned with the company’s product vision

Kevin Rose, the co-founder of Digg and a venture capitalist, once said, “A team aligned behind a vision will move mountains.” This statement is true. To build a successful product, you must navigate through uncertainties, and to do that, you will need a clear product vision.

When you have a development team aligned with the product vision, communication becomes easier, and there is lower dependency on key stakeholders, as it empowers team members with decision-making ability. Such teams think more about improving feature adoption, customer engagement and delivering product-centric outcomes, which reduces iterations and production cost, refines time-to-market and helps in achieving business milestones.

Just consider the COVID-19 pandemic. Startups suffered due to communication overheads, high attrition rates, reduced morale and battled productivity issues.

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However, startups with aligned product teams maintained their productivity and inspired innovations just the way they used to do, because they understood the “why” of building a product.

The success of a product depends on the commitment of the team that builds it.

I have built about 30 startup products over the last 16 years and managed product teams as small as three people to as large as 150. Based on this experience, I have created four rules that I always follow to keep my product teams aligned with the product vision.

Map individual aspirations with product needs

The success of a product depends on the commitment of the team that builds it. In order to achieve milestones, you need talented individuals who are as committed to the product vision as you are, or you might end up with people with skills but no sense of ownership.

To prevent that from happening, you should look at the aspirations of each individual and compare it with what the product needs. You have to maintain a fine balance between the two to improve the grade of the team without compromising an inch on the level of commitment.

This is what I do during my interactions with developers. I always try to understand what developers want to do and how they see growth.

I often get feedback along the lines of:

  • I want to learn the bootstrapping process.
  • I want to learn about new technologies.
  • I want to handle the scaling of a product.
  • I want to become a full-stack engineer.
  • I want exposure to an architectural pattern like Microservices.

Keeping track of these aspirations and addressing them makes it easier to build product teams with high morale, high engagement and better alignment with the product vision. At the same time, individuals start cultivating a sense of ownership of the product. Such teams do not get affected by uncertain times and face minimum attrition issues.