January 10, 2018

How to Set Your Product Teams Up for Success in 2018 – with Jonathan Rivers & Jessica Hall

On this Innovation Engine episode, we’re looking at how to set your product teams up for success in 2018. We cover the top three things your product team needs to do in 2018, why you and your teams should start viewing the world with what we at 3Pillar call the Product Mindset, and the various disciplines necessary to build your very own modern day product team.

Joining us to talk about those topics and more are Jonathan Rivers and Jessica Hall. Jonathan is the Chief Technology Officer at 3Pillar, a role in which he leads more than 700 software engineers, product consultants, product managers, quality assurance, and user experience professionals. He works with 3Pillar team members in each of our locations throughout the world to foster product development best practices that lead to business value for clients. Jessica Hall is 3Pillar’s Senior Director of Product Strategy and Design. She helps clients build great products and more customer-focused teams.

Listen to the Episode

Interested in hearing more? Tune in to the full episode below:


The annual planning process is a colossal waste of time and money – so what are the three things that every product team should be doing, or should have in place, to start 2018 off right?

  • Teams need to know what mountain they’re climbing, and leaders need to show that to them; Giving your team a clear picture of where the organization is going, and the freedom to experiment and figure out how to get there, is the best use of time and money – and it will really empower and motivate your teams to be successful.
  • If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to invest in a QA automation framework. A good framework that tests all of your code, every time that it is checked in, is really going to reduce your time to market and result in better quality code by catching problems earlier in the cycle.
  • All product development organizations should be examining Docker and container technologies. Containers will allow your developers to have nearly production-like environments to develop against, even on their laptops; it’s going to get rid of that “it worked on my laptop” sort of line that a lot of our developers or engineers have used.

Any good product team is held together by, as Jonathan describes them, The Three Amigos:

  1. Product Manager – Your subject matter expert, and the one who understands the business. They should also have a good understanding of user experiences.
  2. Technical Lead – Every product team should have a good full stack developer, or somebody with a wide range of skills who understands the full development ecosystem; a generalist who can cover any number of things, and offer a holistic view on any project.
  3. QA Lead – As you build anything, you should build with quality in mind.

The three core values of the Product Mindset:

  1. Building for outcomes – We are not here just to create code. We’re here to solve problems for customers and businesses.
  2. Minimizing time to value – Not only does this make your customer (or executives) more satisfied, it helps you stay connected with the wants and needs of your customer so that you you are making better decisions about what to build.
  3. Excelling at change – Markets change, customers change, competitors change, and regulations change. It is not enough to just accept this change. It’s not good enough to respond to it. We have to be excelling at it.

Our challenge to all product development teams in 2018: Let’s spend a little less time focusing on telling the team exactly what it looks like and exactly how it works. Let’s spend a little less time talking about exactly how your agile rituals need to work, or how you’re process needs to work. Let’s spend a lot more time, as product leaders, talking about where we are going, and what it looks like when we get there.


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.