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Working Together as a Team

Along the same lines as determining team values and working agreements, your team should develop a rhythm that works best for all team members collectively. This course of action will include how information is collected and distributed among the team, as well as the cadence of regular team communications, check-ins, and stakeholder reviews. The following chapters will provide more specifics about how the team will go about developing and validating the strategy and product vision. In the meantime, here are some general best practices for effectively working together as a vision team.

Communication Standards

Set up regular team stand-up meetings, which are kept short by intent: no one sits down. Each team member can share what they worked on since the last meeting, reveal what they plan to work on next, and discuss any blockers limiting their ability to complete their work. Stand-ups aren’t intended to be deep dives into the work being done; they should be fairly quick meetings that enable everyone on the team to know what’s being worked on, and what’s most important for them to be focusing on at the moment, and for uncovering any impediments that need to be removed. You can spend 15 minutes each day doing a stand-up meeting, or you may decide to run your stand-ups less frequently (1–3 times per week) if the information being shared becomes redundant. Schedule a cadence that works for your team. Part of your stand-up meetings on Mondays should include an overview of the week’s priorities. Write those priorities on a whiteboard for the entire team to see, and mark them off when they are complete. Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments along the way, even if it seems as trivial as marking something off your team to-do list.

You can see in Figure 4.4 that most of Wednesday and Friday are intentionally left open for team members to focus independently on their work as needed. This “open time” may include collaborating with additional teams or focusing on other projects or administrative work.


FIGURE 4.4 A typical routine includes open time as well as set meeting and working times.

Internal Reviews

An internal review or working session—where each team member can take time to go deeper into the work that they’ve done, share research findings, plan for upcoming activities, brainstorm, and wordsmith presentations—should take place on a regular basis. These sessions may happen informally on an ad hoc basis if the team is spending most of their time together in a shared team room. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get time on the calendar—at least once a week—to make sure the team is coming together to plan, share, and discuss what they’re working on.

Core hours are a reserved block of time where all team members plan on being available to work alongside one another. During these protected blocks of time, teams should plan to be present and work together in the team room. Remote team members can make sure they’re available and online through chat or video. Don’t feel as if you need to plan an agenda or specific action items that will be worked on during core hours (unless you want to make sure the team is focused on completing a specific goal). This time is dedicated to team discussion and collaboration. Avoid scheduling and attending meetings unrelated to the work being done by the vision team during core hours (for example, meetings related to another project or team).

Stakeholder Check-ins

When you delivered your pitch to senior leadership to form the product vision team, you should have agreed to regular check-ins with senior stakeholders. It may sound counterintuitive, but the more regularly your team is sharing progress with senior stakeholders, the better. Try to keep these reviews informal and conversational; invite stakeholders to your regularly scheduled review meetings whenever possible. Avoid turning review sessions into more work for your team, such as spending additional time creating presentations to review with stakeholders. The goal is to keep senior leaders aware of what you’re doing and give them the opportunity to provide input and insights along the way.

Get Outside!

Lastly, make sure you’re not spending all of your time in your team room. To create a great product vision for your customers, you’ll need to get out of the building and go to where your customers are! Plan times with your team that don’t conflict with your core hours to get out and do interviews and conduct observational research with your target audience.

Ready, Set, Go!

Although it may feel like you’ve won by getting to this point, there’s no time to rest on your laurels. The hard work (and fun) is truly about to begin. Fortunately, you’re set up for success. Expectations are clear, ideas are percolating, and your product vision A-Team has been assembled to start delivering on the promise of a transformative idea. No pressure!


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