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Building a Product Team: Identifying Desired Attributes and Activities

Product Team
Hiring
New PM

31 March, 2021

Aaron Cripps
Aaron Cripps

VP, Product at Forge Global

Aaron Cripps, VP of Product at Forge Global, highlights the importance of identifying the right attributes and activities when building a product team.

Problem

Many organizations start without an experienced Product Manager and therefore hold an underdeveloped vision of what a product team and practice could be. When there are differing (or no) definitions of Product’s responsibilities and how they relate to the organization, how can we build a strong Product team?

Actions taken

To source the ideal candidate, I start by documenting what I perceive our organization desires in terms of attributes and activities. Attributes are the qualitative aspects that we feel an individual should have to thrive within our culture. For example, a startup may wish to seek out an individual who is Hungry to grab hold of ambiguous situations and do anything necessary to drive a meaningful result. Activities are more tactical in nature and oriented around answering the key needs we want to address. For example, how a person writes documentation, runs user tests, etc.

I take the draft of this document and share it with others in the company, asking for feedback and actively revising until it feels reflective of our culture and needs. Early cross-functional socialization helps us align before we begin the interview process.

We reference the Activities when defining our interview activities to ensure we explore how the candidate works. In post-interview conversations, we reference the Attributes so that we stay focused on finding the right fit for our previously-identified needs.

Lessons learned

Separating cultural aspirations from key responsibilities has helped us better understand what our organization needs in a Product partner. Writing down what is likely tacitly understood allows us to refine our thinking over time. Using this simple document as a tool for cross-functional conversations on our needs and goals helps drive pre-alignment and reduces thrash in the interview process.

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