How to scale product teams

One of the most contentious discussions I have with founders, CEOs and CPOs is how to structure product teams when a company grows.  While I think this is important, I think it misses the wider point.

Four things break when you get bigger, People, Process, Technology and Culture.  Each of these will break at different stages.  While the structure is potentially one of the solutions, there are others.

Before we go into how to diagnose which of these is breaking, it helps to understand the life cycle of a company.  I love to use the music industry as an analogy.

The four

  1. Starting a band
  2. Becoming famous
  3. The ‘gap’
  4. Glastonbury


1. Starting a band

You start making music.  It is terrible.  You may find a partner in crime or just play on yourself.  Through focus and practice, you start improving.  You get your first shot at a local bar, and it goes ok.


2. Becoming famous

Success!  Your band is famous.  You are in demand, and people are asking you to play at their venues and festivals.  Your team has grown, with more and more people setting up the stage, doing marketing.  You have become high-performing team optimised to focus on getting the band in front of as many people as possible.


3. The gap

How do you get from being a successful band to having several successful bands?  This is where most companies fail, predominately because they do not realise that the whole organisation needs a shift from supporting one team, to creating a system for finding supporting great bands.


4. Glastonbury

You did it.  Yo



Focus Advantages Disadvantages
Single product team
Multiple products teams
Experience teams
Project teams
Functional teams