Mindset and structure are two things that automatically come to mind when thinking about scaling organizations. What’s the best way to execute on a company vision, and how do product leaders structure their teams to plan for growth? These are questions that every product leader must ask as they look to the future. Roblox Product VP Matt Kaufman joins us to present his first principles including how to maintain a balanced leadership and plan for innovation at scale.
On innovation at scale
Scaling teams for growth is a skill that takes finesse, care, and asking a lot of questions. Knowing which questions to ask can aid product leaders in getting the framework right from the very start. Matt elaborates on his approach to team structure and the concept of innovation at scale.
“In thinking about scaling organizations and growing teams, I always start by asking ‘who are the customers?’ The obvious answer that most people have is, my customers are the users of my product. However, I would argue that when you think about growing organizations and growing teams, you have to think a little bit more broadly than that.”
“The role of a product leader is oftentimes taking a vision and turning that into roadmaps and execution plans. You really have to map vision all the way down, to individual responsibilities. As a product leader, you’re responsible for defining a product, but you’re also the storyteller. You’re the one who has to be able to convince everybody why you are doing what you are doing.”
“Next question I ask is, what are the problems that you’re trying to solve? The first problem that a lot of companies go through is product market fit. Organizations at a different stage might focus on customer satisfaction. Other times, it’s about scaling, so it’s very growth-oriented. As a last thought, these problems are meant to evolve but you have to be clear where the priority lies.
On balanced leadership
To execute on a company vision requires smooth leadership. When it’s left to a single person, however, that vision can get lost in the retelling. Creating values that are shared, understood, and communicated across every member of the team is crucial to successful implementation. Matt shares how adopting a core value of balanced leadership helps a vision resonate in every team member.
“We speak a lot about this notion of innovation at scale. As an organization starts to scale and grow into a larger organization, you need to create pockets of innovation everywhere. You can’t just have a single, visionary founder who is responsible for the vision side. You really have to scale it out.”
“Another value baked into our company is the notion of balanced leadership. We have 50 plus teams in product development but there’s not a single leader of any of those teams. Instead, we have an engineering lead, a product lead, a design lead, and a data science lead. Of course, not every team has all four disciplines, but the point is to find balance and to ask everybody to take the long view.”
In essence, when growing teams, think about these first principles. First, identify your customers. Then, define the problem. Next, establish values for what you want the organization to do, then build a roadmap for it. Finally, make sure you measure the outcomes and use tools in the process to reinforce values, not just to drive efficiency.
About the Video:
About the speaker
Matt Kaufman serves as Vice President of Product and Product Operations at Roblox. In his role, Matt guides the company’s overall product strategy to help us bring people together through play and build world-class digital experiences for our growing international community. He oversees the product teams for Growth, Analytics, Social, Apps, and International.