This is a question I have been trying to answer for myself, after my last startup decided to reduce headcount significantly to reach profitability. A tough but correct decision in my honest opinion. So this is where I am in my thought process right now …
I want to work for an organization that has rigor and data driven practices around product management, vision, strategy, roadmap planning and execution (engineering+product) and/or aspires to get there and keep improving. They are willing to invest and build the foundation and infrastructure necessary to build these processes and structures to enable everyone at the organization to make great decisions.
Good product teams are collaborative, learning continuously, customer and data centric, diverse and care deeply about their work, their customers and all their stakeholders. I understand building technology products is a messy iterative process but hopefully it’s as much a science as an art.
From my reading and talking to folks some of the companies I admire for being thought leaders and putting the rigor and data to work include
- Obviously some of the usual suspects, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, LinkedIn and Microsoft also have built a great product culture
- Mission driven organizations that have proven impact and business models e.g. Kiva and Fluxx labs
- Series B companies that have proven products you might love, and have seen them scale and solve real problems as a result of executing really well e.g. Snowflake computing (a company I love)
This is important to me because from my experience working in series A startups (5 years, almost a PHD!) and large companies, my best work and learning has come from working in environments where the company is looking to scale and making decisions that can stand the rigor of reason while learning continuously (think Hypothesis driven). I learn from my peers and through collaboration, hence the team is important to me. I believe, rigor and analytical approaches are not a choice, data is not optional but critical to decision making. Without data and rigor, we would all just be making guesses.
If you know of such companies, feel free to email me with your thoughts and suggestions, or leave a comment here. I am also keen on talking to people everywhere (geographically) in diverse roles, product, design, engineering, implementations, customer support, learning from your experiences and sharing mine. If you are kind enough to offer your thoughts and learnings, please let me know. Happy to setup remote calls and if we happen to be in the same geography, buy coffee, go for a walk or connect through any channel/format that works for you.
Some folks reached out to me about my experience, here is an update
Most of my experience in the last 5 years has been at early stage startups, starting with Ola, MyParichay a social recruitment startup that was acquired by Shine.com and Schoolzilla. All had product + engineering teams of fewer than 30 at the time I joined them, with a team of fewer than 3 product managers. I was instrumental in helping these companies try and find product-market fit and setting up processes in product management and engineering to have more predictable release cycles and better discussions and feedback loops around vision, strategy and roadmap planning, the holy grail of product management. Schoolzilla was especially close to my heart in its alignment with mission (education), values and mix of people, I learnt a ton and had a lot of fun doing so.