There has been enough written on how to build highly effective product teams. You might have read Marty Cagan’s book (we did too) or dozens of other articles. Even if you follow industry best practices in setting up product teams, you will never build any two teams in exactly the same way. Teams are made of individuals and the sum of these individuals makes each team unique. It’s no different for us at Starship.
In our product team we have multiple product groups that focus on key pillars of the business such as consumer experience or autonomous systems. Each team is empowered with competencies and skills needed to bring product to life from idea to customer acceptance and business impact: product management, product design, data science and engineering.
Team’s function better when there are clear roles and responsibilities established across the team, and when each role is filled by a person highly skilled in that role. This is a basic concept of teamwork, where the collective group can accomplish more than if each person works individually. Work has to be divided up to allow for this, and so allocating the work to people with the skills to perform the work is more efficient than assigning it randomly, or to people who don’t have the necessary skills.
When we hire for product teams, in addition to necessary skills, we look for culture add and values fit. Every new person that joins us adds something or compliments our culture. It makes the team unique and one of a kind. If you’re thinking about jumping the ship (pun intended!) and joining the Starship product team here are a few things you may want to know about our ways of working.
Extreme ownership & trust
As a team, and everyone individually, we take full responsibility for our work and the things that have happened. This means that everyone takes action to get the necessary information to do their job and we proactively try to solve any given problems. We don’t wait for someone to hand us everything but instead we ask, we seek, and we find. And yes, sometimes we fail. In such situations we don’t blame others for the failure but instead we own it. As one of our company values states: “we learn with each journey”.
Professional maturity is the ability to respect diversified cultural backgrounds and experiences in a workplace. In our team we have 12 different nationalities from 4 continents and we work in distributed teams between Helsinki, Tallinn and London. We respect one another and accept that we are different — that’s what makes us special. Having so many different cultures in one team sometimes causes situations where our opinions collide. We approach these situations as a source of true team value, and with a non-judgmental and compassionate attitude.
Fit for purpose
Being a bunch of experienced people that are really good at what they do means that we want to do our job really well. We want to put out the best possible experience for our customers and partners. We want to create products that are as good as they can possibly be — make them perfect.
The problem with perfectionism, however, is that it slows us down and it can make the team miss opportunities to bring value in a new way. If we release things only when they’re perfect we won’t learn quickly enough how to make things better. Therefore, we try not to let perfect get into a way of better. Thus, we aspire for perfection but don’t let that hinder us from releasing great things.
Disagree & commit
We believe that a good idea can come from anyone. And we want the best ideas to flourish — regardless of where they originated. This means being open to constructively working with people with diverse skills and perspectives, and keeping our decision-making inclusive and rigorous.
Once we have exhausted the options a decision is made. We embrace the concept of constructive debate and querying, but once a decision is made we all rally around the chosen path. We embody the principle of disagree & commit.
Believing in making a difference
A lot of us joined Starship because we thought it would be cool to work with robots. And it really is. The common value that we all share though, is that we truly believe that we can make a difference. We believe that we can make a positive impact of solving the last-mile problem by developing the delivery service of tomorrow, today. We all want Starship to succeed and make the last-mile the greenest mile.
Building the delivery service of tomorrow is not an easy task. The challenges we work on are complex and multifaceted. Working at the intersection of physical and digital products and systems adds to this complexity. As a product team we aim to take our extraordinary technical achievements and turn them into a service that people simply cannot live without. We aim to delight our customers with the ultimate on-demand services, and to inspire our merchants with a peerless local sales channels. In parallel we work to empower our operations teams to drive efficiency with quality and deliver everyday magic with our self-driving robots.
Do these challenges sound up your alley? Great, we’re on a lookout for unusually talented people. Find your next career here.