February 28, 2023

Developing Empowered, Powerful Product Teams, with Marty Cagan – Part 2

Episode 195 of The Innovation Engine podcast.

This podcast is part of the Masters of Innovation.

Learn more about this series and join the community.

In the first segment of our conversation with Marty Cagan, the celebrated product expert and bestselling author of Empowered and Inspired, we discussed why a roadmap focused on outcomes yields far better results than one based on solutions, the importance of clearly communicating an appealing product vision, and the critical inquiry that a strong product vision must address directly.

In part two, we discuss the foundational elements needed for product teams to be successful, and how to identify mission-driven teams.

We also discuss how to structure teams to maximize effectiveness, how to hold teams accountable, and the altitude you need to speak at to handle executive and investor expectations. The key point is that product teams provide the most value when they’re solving complex problems and figuring out how to drive outcomes, not merely following orders. We also discuss how to identify missionaries versus mercenaries, with the key difference being that missionaries identify with the project and take ownership of the outcome.

Tune in to the full conversation to hear how teams can balance the immediate needs of the business with the long-term product vision, the importance of taking ownership of things outside of your control, and why empowered product teams are passionate about solving problems.

Episode Highlights

  • Marty recommends that every quarter, teams should choose a few hard problems to solve that take the company toward a desired outcome
  • How engineers can fully take ownership of their product, even when some things are outside of their control
  • Why, when a board or executives are looking to project results, product leaders can frame initiatives as “placing bets” 
  • The concept of missionaries vs. mercenaries and why you always want to have missionaries who feel ownership of a product

About Marty Cagan

Marty Cagan is a renowned product leader, founder, and partner at the Silicon Valley Product Group, and the author of two influential books, Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products and Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love. He has been a prominent figure in Silicon Valley for years, having previously worked at eBay, Netscape, and Hewlett-Packard. Over the past two decades as the founder of Silicon Valley Product Group, Marty has provided consultancy for several significant technology products and established himself as a leading advocate for building customer-centric, product-focused organizations.


About The Innovation Engine

Since 2014, 3Pillar has published The Innovation Engine, a podcast that sees a wide range of innovation experts come on to discuss topics that include technology, leadership, and company culture. You can download and subscribe to The Innovation Engine on Apple Podcasts. You can also tune in via the podcast’s home on Spotify to listen online, via Android or iOS, or on any device supporting a mobile browser.