Small, self-sufficient fast teams with a goal and time period to create new revenue streams, solve complex problems and challenge the possible working to company objectives. They bring together people from different disciplines into a single unit with a single, quantifiable business metric to focus on. The team is measured on outcomes.
The team is formed by those who can help to lead the discovery work and who has knowledge in if it is feasible (developer), usable (UX-person who regularly meets the users) and sellable (PO who knows the business). This team uses agile and lean methods as quickly as possible to figure out what it is they should build and verify their assumptions along the way. They facilitate collaborative workshops like a design studio, mob programming and usability testing with stakeholders, team and users.
Product discovery typically describes a (flexible) period during which the Mission team focuses on building the right thing as opposed to building the thing right (which would be Product Delivery).
Examples of Mission Team might include:
Typically, Teams are either working on the problem space or the solution space. They're either still trying to understand whether a problem exists for their users, customers, or stakeholders or they are focussed on executing a matching solution.
Product Discovery is not necessarily about shipped features. Identifying the right problem space to explore and genuinely understanding that problem is extremely valuable for any company.
The cornerstone questions for every (good) Product Strategy should be built on:
It’s good to visualise the answers to these questions and you could use the Product Field Framework, which makes the (constantly evolving) pillars guiding Product Discovery efforts visible.
The Product Owner to Trust his team in delivering the right outcomes and solving the right problems for the end customer.
Where a Mission team might struggle with a starting point and it’s often due to the lack of a clear strategic context and intent they must avoid making tacit assumptions which can be harmful in achieving the strategic objectives. It’s up to the Mission Team to seek that clarity from the leadership group and drive for strategic direction. By utilising a collaborative framework like the Product Field, you can outline the strategic direction of your product and identify blind spots pretty easily. It’s also good to invest in synchronous meetings with team members and stakeholders to walk everyone through the strategic direction.
Mission Teams execute on an objective that has been assigned to a Team of Teams or directly via the executive. They are responsible for breaking the objective into iterative and impactful releases thus reducing uncertainty around a problem or idea to make sure that the right product gets built for the right audience. The Mission Team offers Product Teams higher confidence in their path forward.
Sometimes a Mission Team may create a Prototype which is taken into Production by a Product Team. It is also the foundation for a successful implementation and launch phase later on.
Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
George S. Patton
The Mission teams are comprised of a Mission Lead and Crew Members which are usually cross skilled specialists.
The size of the teams can vary although should not be greater than 5 people.
Metered (Seed Funding) or Capex funded
Work in environments where there are no known customers, they help their teams to break objectives into measurable outcomes and deliver iteratively.
Autonomy is a key factor in the success of the Mission team. By giving teams a mission or metric to move but not telling them what to go and build, you make them masters of their own destiny.
The majority of their work is hypothesis-driven, so the team come up with their own hypotheses, and decide what they’re going to build, test and ultimately ship.
A Mission Team needs highly adaptable crew members who are extremely comfortable wearing many hats and working across disciplines. (Generalists who learn at pace)
They are usually curious - they are the type of people that master skills and then move on to something new. They are outcome-driven high performers, sometimes called mavericks, who are not ideally suited to operational roles.
They need to have a high tolerance for uncertainty, to be imaginative, highly adaptable and obsessive.
The most successful teams are 100% focused on their key metric. That means minimising disruptions and refusing to allow any “oh, can you just…” requests. Rules should be clear: if it’s not moving the mission metric, it’s not mission-critical.
Variety is a huge benefit of working in a mission team structure. With short mission durations e.g. quarterly and new goals appearing each quarter, your talent is more likely to stay fresh and energised. People don’t get stuck working on one thing for years on end. New challenges are always in plentiful supply.
There are no passengers on Mission Teams.
As well as increasing overall speed and quality, embedding experts in a mission team also empowers other departments and takes them on the product development journey. These experts will also go back to their teams and tell them first hand about what the mission teams are doing
Things to consider when conducting the Team Events:
Mission teams are measured on outcomes.