A highlight from Why Empowered Teams Make the Best Products with Marty Cagan


And service and he's also seen this pattern of businesses that startup but then the founder gets caught up and running the business and there starts to be a loss of focus on the product in the startup community. That very often happens is the founder was the totally passionate about the whole business about the problem. They were solving about their customers. And then of course there's some degree of success and now there's just not enough hours in a day and very often we see exactly what you're describing that the team will complain that there's no more vision there's rudderless we don't really understand what we're here for and a lot of times. We need to really coach that leader in making sure that in fact i we refer to this as losing your product mojo. You're just really lost that that spark you're referring to and now is really critical not of course because that would be the beginning of the end And so what we wanna do is make sure that either that leader is able to retain that in fact one of the most common ways that'll be addressed is that that leader will hire a chief operating officer. Basically somebody to do a lot of the block in tackling of the business so that that person can continue to sort of carry the torch for the vision for the product services that you're offering but one way or another that's really essential if that falls off an even by the way you see that when a founder retires if they either sell out or move on for whatever reason you see the same sort of consequence why do you think it's key that the founder is the person who stays at the helm with the product versus delegating that piece to a product manager. Or somebody. who can maybe you know build on what they started with. Yeah well it's a super and what i'm about to say you should realize i'm not everybody agrees with us. There are different schools of thought. Some people believe that it's good when you reach a certain size to bring in professional manager. You know sort of stereotypical mba from wherever to come in. I'm not in that school. I believe if you look at the most successful companies. They're almost you know they're not always but most of the time they are led by their founders that grew into that role and so i'm much more interested in coaching and helping us founders to become the leader there companies. Need them to be than to okay. Will you just need to get out of the way. Let us bring in a professional adult supervision. You've you've probably heard the phrase on and and i think what's really going on. Is you know these. That spark you're alluding to is not a minor thing that is right at the essence of that company and you have to realize this founder was there from t zero right from the very very beginning from before the beginning was probably dreaming about the company as they were deciding to take a very move and try to build this thing and if every single experiment that was done every single customer encounter every single mistake that was made. How do you capture that. I mean i don't know anybody that's really figured out a good way to capture that and so bringing in some professional you know so called professional Yes they might be very experienced leading large organizations and providing wall street everything they need but they don't know what made that company what it is today. They don't know what's important and what's accidental. They don't have that institutional knowledge and they really have a hard time without that Creating or even explaining the product vision. That's necessary for the next several years. So i am firmly in the school where i believe taking that founder and providing them the skills they need to grow and in most cases. That's exactly what happens. You said bringing somebody in from the outside. They don't know what's important and what's accidental. That's a very interesting phrase There are things that are core to an organization core values of the founder But say more about the accidental tease. Yeah well in fact. This is a super hard problem. When i joined ebay. It was young a company. That was my last sort of real data real company. Where i was not on my own and i was attracted to the company because of the founders in particular pierre roma jarre was the co founder of ebay and just a genuine Really inspirational guy. He's gone on to be a major philanthropist. Which is not surprising to me is just a genuine human. And i what i was he had really been. I was brought on as their original head of product but really he was the original head of product as the founder. And what i wanted to do was make sure that i could take ebay forward and not lose the essence of ebay. So the very first things that i did was sit down with him to try effect. I remember I wrote a document which i share it. All over the company called ebay secret sauce which was just an internal document and it was from my discussions with him about of all the things that are that. Make up ebay. I'm sure all your you know listeners know ebay the marketplace but all the things that make it up what's really important and what's just accidental. Because something had to be there but if it changed wouldn't matter but certain things if they changed you could literally kill. The golden goose was a very profitable company in a very know off to a great start. It was making money from the beginning so on one level. You just don't want to mess it up on another level you want to be able to build on what he's done so i luckily you know. He stayed on still board member but he So you know you don't lose all of that but And to be honest not not that it was my choice. Nobody even asked me. But i think i think it would have been better for the company if he had stayed as their leader but but anyway they decided to bring professional and it's not like they did terrible they didn't but but it's also fair to say that at the time we were twice the size of amazon and today ebay is minuscule compared to amazon. It's interesting exercise you did you. Proactively decided to interview him and figure out the secret sauce. I'm imagining the founder of a construction company. Who's got fifty employees. They're listening to this conversation. Coin man. I wish marty would come along and interview me about the secret sauce. What types of questions are you asking. What are the things you were documenting. Say more about that process. Yeah well i want to be clear. This is definitely not a science. It's more an art i. I wish there was more like rigor about that But what i wanted to understand was his views about why he made the decisions he made. And i've done this with lots of founders. By the way. I we often refer to these product principles like. It's not so much that it matters that this looks this way. What matters is what was in his head what we're his values. Well we're his priorities. So i'll give you a very real example. And i think this is very relevant for the world today. One of the things honestly. That very much impressed me about him. He was very conscious. I mean he literally did state in one of the earliest product principles that he believed that most people are good people Which i love. I think there's some ebay is sort of built on this idealistic notion of the world being largely trusted but he also knew that not everybody was good and we had an obligation to protect the good people from the bat and so right from the beginning he designed in mechanisms around

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