Building Team Consensus When Creating Products

As a product owner you have to make a lot of decisions. The only way to make good decisions is to gather information from your team members and other stakeholders. What you'll quickly find is that not everyone is going to agree with each other, which means your decision isn't going to sit well with some people. Here is how to deal with that situation: choose what is really important to you, then pick your battles.

Choosing what is important

Some people will say that everything is important to your product. The look and feel, the color scheme, the button labels, the signup flow, etc. They're not entirely wrong. Successful products are highly coordinated systems with all parts complementing each other and working together. However, product managers rarely know what each piece of the product should do or look like until they've built something and it has been tested. Up until that point, it is mostly speculation, even for the most senior product person.

As you gain more experience as a product manager and work on more products, you'll develop a deeper understanding of general user psychology and how they interact with software. This will help you to create better initial hypotheses, but best practices don't always translate into optimal user interaction. When gathering intelligence (and opinions) from your team, choose a few components that you feel will have the most impact, and focus on those.

Pick your battles

Now that you've chosen your most important items, delegate some of the other decisions to the appropriate team members. This will accomplish two important things. First, it will give team members validation that their ideas and input are valued. And second, it will give you more time to focus on the really important items.

So for example, let your designer choose what color the signup button is and let your marketing team decide what text goes on the button. Does it really matter if the color is red versus yellow, or blue versus green? It might, but you will have no idea until you test it. Does it matter if the signup button reads "Sign Up" versus "Create an Account", or "Get Started" versus "Start Now?" Of course it does, but again, you have no idea until you test it. Let these team members contribute and acknowledge their input. Then you can figure out if only including a single NAME field in the signup form instead of two separate fields for FIRST and LAST names optimizes signups.

Keep your team engaged

One of the keys to developing a successful product is teamwork. It is rarely possible to make all the decisions on your own. Involving your team early and often is a great way to make sure they stay active in the process and excited about the product. Be smart when picking your battles and choose your fronts wisely.

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