Our Approach to Product Management | Paxos
When people learn that Paxos is a regulated financial institution, they tend to think of a bureaucratic organization that moves slowly. In fact, that’s the of who we are and how we operate. We’re a nimble, innovative company pursuing an ambitious mission to bring technology and product innovation to the regulated financial services industry by building the bridge to an open, decentralized financial system.
We see product managers as the conductors of this orchestra — setting the vision, defining the strategy and driving execution and the operating cadence for the business. And because we have clear systems and processes in place for doing this work, PMs can allocate their time to the activities that create maximum leverage for the business.
Setting the vision
Our mission to power the transition to an open financial system is grounded in a belief that more than half of the world’s $600trn of assets will be accessible on digitally open ledgers in the next 20 years. Given how early the industry is in this evolution, there are an infinite number of ways Paxos could achieve its vision.
To maximize the probability of achieving our vision, I collaborate with the Paxos product team in our annual strategy process to define annual and quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for each business line.
Each of our three business lines has a multi-year vision statement and a clearly defined allocation of the overall company’s resources. This orientation ensures that each team member at Paxos can align their work to a clear and ambitious goal while the company as a whole and the product team as a function can pursue multiple strategic initiatives at once.
PMs are responsible for the overall orchestration of each business line and for maintaining alignment to our mission and vision. This means that PMs need to communicate the vision in a way that is meaningful and actionable to business, technical and regulatory stakeholders.
Defining business line strategy
The product team kicks off the quarterly OKR process by meeting with their engineering and business counterparts to prioritize the objectives that will best achieve their business line’s core metric for the year. After prioritizing the objectives they want to focus on for the quarter, the team defines key results to measure success against these objectives.
Having the product team lead our OKR process is a key part of how we operate as a product driven company and ensures we remain agile in how we achieve our vision. Additionally, focusing on Objectives and Key Results at the start of the quarter gives the product and engineering team the leeway to prioritize roadmap items throughout the quarter based on the business inputs they receive.
In order to ensure our business line strategy permeates the organization, the product team shares their OKRs with functional leaders (like legal, operations, marketing and finance), who are responsible for setting their own objectives and key results to support each business line’s OKRs. We ensure accountability and transparency of the overall OKR process by having the product team and the functional leads present their OKRs at the first company All Hands meeting of the new quarter.
Using sprints as the heartbeat of the organization
Once the product has set the objectives and key results for the business, it’s time for every team to hit the ground running. Like many other tech companies, we break up the quarter into two-week sprints and we have placed a major emphasis on making the two-week sprint the “heartbeat of the organization.”
Uniquely at Paxos, our functional groups (operations, finance, marketing, sales, etc.) also operate in 2 week sprint cycles. Just like our product squads, each functional team maintains a project backlog, sets sprint goals, runs a retro and even participates in sprint demos. All teams then send out sprint goals to the same public email alias every other Monday so that anyone at the company can see what they are focused on.
This ensures the entire business is operating at the same rhythm and increases cross-functional visibility as the company grows. Finally, we also take time to see our good work in action and at the end of every sprint we hold company-wide product demos so all employees can see what we’re accomplishing as a business.
If you’re a product leader that is excited by this type of work, we’d love to hear from you.