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The 2013 Study of Product Team Performance

cover: 2013 Study of Product Team Performance The 2013 Study of Product Team Performance is out! The results are not quite as across-the-board extraordinary as last year’s study – that would have been hard to match – but it offers individual results that are every bit as eye-opening – and overall it’s quite revealing.

What startled me in last year’s study was that it named just five things that:

  • if you don’t do them, you have only a 2% chance of high level team performance
  • if you do all of them, you have a 67% likelihood of high level team performance

I thought that was pretty remarkable. I blogged about the 2012 Study’s five factors for success.

I also blogged about how the change 2012 survey respondents most wanted to make in their teams rang true in my experience – and how one team had achieved that challenging leap forward.

But I was struck by the fact that the 2012 Study’s then-three authors had product and project and requirements backgrounds – but no developer viewpoint. When I pointed that out, they recruited me to be a fourth coauthor of this year’s study.

We targeted this year’s study to dig deeper into the factors that affect team performance and product profitability. We partnered with 13 professional associations and companies to recruit and survey almost 1500 members of product teams over 90 days at the beginning of this year. We provided the resulting data to statisticians.

The regression analysis the statisticians delivered deepened or expanded our understanding of four of the five factors of high-performing teams that emerged from last year’s study (the fifth had been so strong it needed no clarification):

  • An Aligned Strategy: the significance of the product team aligning with the company’s overall goals and objectives
  • The Importance of Product Launch: successfully staffing and resourcing product launch activities
  • Onboarding Processes: the surprising impact that emphasizing effective product team member onboarding has on the overall performance of the product team
  • Executive Team Support: not only is unwavering executive team support linked with product team success, but so is close connection with the CEO or general manager.

A new factor emerged from the analysis:

  • Product Manager Role Definition: the favorable impact that a well-defined product management role plays in product team success

The study also revealed four landmines: statistically relevant factors that can undermine a team’s ability to achieve high performance.

I’ll blog about some of these results (and at least one other intriguing response) in the next few days here, but you may want to read the 2013 Study of Product Team Performance white paper now.


About the Author

Ron Lichty has been transforming chaos to clarity and making software development “hum” for most of his 20-plus years managing software development and product organizations. Ron co-authored 2012's highly regarded Addison-Wesley title, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams ( ), his co-author Pixar/Broderbund/Gracenote CTO Mickey Mantle. With over 70 years of combined experience, these two software industry veterans crafted a book designed to help any software manager be more successful. Having spent their careers developing software, leading software development projects, and managing programmers and teams, they distilled their experience into a book that every beginning programming manager would get value from, both to read and to pull from their bookshelves for reference. It's a book that is also helping executives who struggle sponsoring projects dependent upon software success – CEOs, COOs, CTOs, and others – to understand the craft of software development and the intricacies of how to manage software people and teams to deliver software projects successfully. Ron has repeatedly been brought in as a “VPE of Fix-It” to coach and mentor programming managers at all levels and to solve problems like painfully slow product development, past-due estimates with no delivery in sight, challenges arising from geographically dispersed teams, scalability stymied by sluggish data integration, productivity bridled by uncertainty, an "order-taking mentality" from teams that should be eagerly proactive, and teams unable to break out of research and move on to development and delivery. Ron untangles organizational knots, creates roadmaps everyone can follow, builds communications with other parts of the organization, coaches and trains organizations in agile and scrum, and gets teams productive and focused on delivery, quality and customers. Chaos to clarity.
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