Box CPO on Product Design (Part 3)

It takes a village to drive effective product design. In other words, you need to have a strong team to create meaningful product solutions at scale. Many companies struggle with building teams and leveraging skillsets effectively. In my experience, it’s best to work in small teams to achieve your long-term business goals. While it’s tempting to think about expanding team size as your company grows, the opposite is true.

#7: Define Your Core Organizational Unit (“PEAPOD”).

I find that it’s best to operate in small teams of 8-12 people. Even in large organizations, it’s important to continue working in small teams. Said differently, it’s better to have a high number of small teams than one massive team without clear roles or responsibilities. For example, every team at Box has a clear mission and is organized into a “PEAPOD” that people from six business functions. (Product, Engineering, Analytics, Program Managers, Online Growth, Design). This model ensures that every member of the team has a clear line of sight into their impact on a project. In addition, you’re able to democratize innovation and drive more effective cross-collaboration. Simply put, small teams help businesses scale their organization and product growth more effectively.

#8: Hunger and Curiosity Trump All Else.

Building a great product design team goes beyond professional skills. You need to find people who have intangible qualities. For example, you want people who are genuinely passionate about your organization’s mission. In other words, they look at their day-to-day responsibilities as being more than a job. These qualities ensure that your team is taking personal ownership of what you’re trying to build. In the end, you are creating an environment where people will put in the long hours because they believe in what you’re doing.

#9: Half-Life Reduces Dramatically In The Digital Age

It’s harder than ever to stay relevant within your target market. For example, successful 20th-century companies would remain in the S&P 500 for decades. Fast-forward to the present, most companies only last 7 years on the S&P 500. Given the rapid rate of innovation, product design teams must accelerate their development cycles significantly. Simply put, you can’t wait 3 years to introduce something new. One way to drive efficiency within your product cycles is to partner with other groups to split product stack requirements. In the end, it’s very difficult for one product manager to own every stage of the product cycle. Instead, you can spread out the responsibilities with other partners to ensure that projects are moving forward on time.

#10: Purpose Matters

If all you do is clock-in and clock-out at work, your career will never be fulfilling. Ultimately, you want to feel like you’re building something meaningful. It’s important to remember that your time on this earth cannot be replenished. While it’s easy to search for an easy payday, money can always be replenished. As a result, you should pursue opportunities that leverage your skills and maximize your time. In the end, we should all work to make a difference in people’s lives and to fulfill our personal passions.

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About the speaker
Jeetu Patel SVP & GM, Security and Collaboration Division, Cisco Member

Jeetu Patel is Cisco’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Security and Collaboration. He leverages a diverse set of capabilities to lead the strategy and development for these businesses and also owns P&L responsibility for this multibillion-dollar portfolio. Jeetu combines a bold vision, steeped in product design and development expertise, operational rigor, and innate market understanding to create high-growth Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. Prior to joining Cisco, Jeetu was the Chief Product Officer (CPO) and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at Box, a role he pioneered. He also created the Box Platform business unit where he led product strategy, marketing, and developer relations – driving products from the incubation stage to mature offerings.