Product Team Members Report To The Team Leader

A Product Team should be collaborative, but communication/psychology/flow is simpler if there's a single "leader" (TeamLead) who the members report to.

Context/meta/goals: Agile Product Development, My Product Development Process


  • Hand-offs between specialist teams create delays and mis-communication and/or overhead.
  • Countless product decisions can be made more complicated/expensive than their value warrants.
  • Refining ideas as group with shared sense of "cost" vs "benefit" accelerates finding sweet-spot of small-batch delivery.
  • Even in a consultative organization, having a well-defined leader tends to improve FlowState.
    • Patrick McKenzie: Sort of a meme at work, which has tracked with my experience: nothing which doesn’t have a named owner gets done, and nothing with more than one named owner gets done.


  • A (software) Product Team should be a sticky, outcome/(OKR)-driven, product-focused (not technology-stack-focused/), cross-functional Two-Pizza Team. Probably 5 devs + 1 QA + 1 UX/UI Designer + Team Lead.
  • the team needs Agility, Context, and Team Agency
  • All its members should report directly to the Team Lead. Not to their Functional Management. They should have a supportive functional Community of Practice, but "standards" etc need to be sold to Team Leads.
  • The Team Lead should probably be a Product Manager. This may be a syllogism. Conceptual Integrity via Auteur Theory.
    • updates/refinements
      • the "key factor" of success (or primary risk) for a team might be technical/engineering excellence, in which case maybe the team lead should be an engineer. But in most teams, customer adoption is the risk: tech excellence has to be in service of the customer's needs.
      • in a smaller number of cases design might be the key
        • consumer less-functional app
        • something requiring super-deep anthropological insight - these products usually fail :)
      • alternatively, might be completely about the specific team and discipline-lead individuals within it, as to which is a better leader of the team? Does this imply it's better not to even "name" a leader? I think the key anti-pattern is having team members report to someone outside the team, but could a self-organizing system work? (2015-11-22) Dignan Picking Self-Organization Model
  • But since the majority of the team will probably be developers, the Team Leader should have enough development experience to have deep dialogue/collaboration with the devs about finding the sweet-spot of benefit-vs-cost in defining each initiative. Most PMs fail at this.
  • Hiring: leader of the team they'll be joining is final decision-maker, should obviously involve devs from team, plus dev-leads in other teams.
  • Promotions: if engineers aren't managing engineers, then promotion tends to be about "level" (hardness of problems they are good at solving, and compensation). Yeah, "standards" and a committee....

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