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Don’t be a feature team

I saw the following quote passing when watching a presentation by Nick Tune:

The best single source for innovation is your engineers (because  they’re working with the enabling technology every day, so they’re in the best position to see what’s just now possible).

This quote comes from Marty Cagan who makes the distinction between product teams and feature teams.

What is the difference between the 2?


Marty Cagan explains empowerment like this in one of his articles:

Empowerment of an engineer means that you provide the engineers with the problem to solve, and the strategic context, and they are able to leverage technology to figure out the best solution to the problem.

An easy way to tell whether you have empowered engineers or not, is if the first time your engineers see a product idea is at sprint planning, you are clearly a feature team, and your engineers are not empowered in any meaningful sense.

The reality is that most teams freedom is limited. They get some freedom at the architecture level but in the end they are only there to serve the business and implement their requirements(although there is no such a thing as a requirement).

Real empowerment would mean that teams are trusted to solve customers problems in ways that meet the needs of the business. This makes an enormous difference resulting in highly motivated teams achieving great results.

So if you truly want to achieve high performance, don’t be a feature team…

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