Yieldmo’s Josh Wexler on scaling a product team
What’s the secret to scaling a successful product team? We asked Josh Wexler, former VP of Product and now Chief of Staff at Yieldmo, a GV-backed adtech startup, to share his thoughts. Below, learn how to build the high-performing team and structure needed to tackle an ambitious product roadmap – all while keeping an eye on a shared team vision.
Define team principles first
In joining Yieldmo, Josh inherited a team with both technical debt — messy code from past programmers — and management debt stemming from a lack of prior leadership. To develop trust and unify the team, he spent his first two weeks at Yieldmo working with the engineers to define team principles: behavioral guidelines to drive team decision-making.
Yieldmo’s team principles:
- People above process
- Just enough process to achieve our outputs and outcomes
- Just enough code to achieve our outcomes
- Discipline in process – do it right for a period of time
- Nothing beats shipping product
- We put design first
Putting people above process, a concept borrowed from the Agile Manifesto, conveyed to the engineers on Josh’s team that he would add only the minimum amount of process needed to achieve team goals. Josh asked the team to commit to a test period for each new process to evaluate its success. Daily standups, for example, were tested for two months before being officially adopted as part of the team’s process.
Develop a playbook to guide how you scale
Yieldmo has grown dramatically over the year and three months since Josh joined. To support this growth, Josh needed to restructure his product organization. In preparation, he developed a playbook outlining the steps and timeline needed to become the “highly aligned, highly autonomous organization” necessary to achieve Yieldmo’s product goals.
“We really revamped our entire product organization,” Josh says, by defining goals for relationships, process, and technology, and using a phased approach to achieve them. By sticking to the playbook, Yieldmo doubled the size of its product organization – and doubled its revenue year-over-year.
Focus on leadership, hiring, and the right kind of optimization
Josh closed with three key learnings from scaling Yieldmo’s product organization:
The importance of leadership. “The more that I did these reorganizations, the more that we scaled the team, the more critical and important leadership has become,” Josh says. Specifically, Yieldmo values servant leadership, with the goal of every leader to put others above him or herself.
Hiring is a critical part of team success. Yieldmo uses a fact-based, four-interview approach to assess candidates on reasoning, skills, culture, and fit. This, Josh says, had led to an incredible quality of talent.
The dangers of premature optimization. Be wary of trying to make something scale before it’s ready to – or before you need it to. Early in the reorg, Josh’s team found themselves borrowing ideas from companies with thousands of employees, only to realize that the key to success would be to optimize for the 100+ people Yieldmo employs today.
Interested in more of Josh’s thoughts on how to define the right team principles, develop a plan, and avoid common pitfalls? Check out our recent webinar for more actionable tips to scale your own product team.