It’s often heard in the industry that a “healthy tension” between Product and Engineering is a good thing to have.
This is a nonsense.
The healthy tension implies that the two worlds are in conflict, and outcomes result from a negotiation where each party looks for local optimum.
What’s actually needed is a robust and long term partnership.
Product and engineering are complementary skillsets required to create great products that customers love. They should have common goals and shared constraints.
Such a partnership can be achieved with two ingredients:
- Elevate the conversation from functional activities to shared goals
- Work collectively on multiple horizons
The required shift is from “identifying market opportunities” vs “writing code” to serve customers with the best Product. And the best Product has great PMF and high-quality. “But engineers just care about writing code!” I hear you say. Not true. The best engineers understand that their code is serving a higher goal. Define the intent, work with quality in mind, rinse and repeat.
Multiple horizons mean assessing the immediate impact on revenue together with the Total Cost of Ownership (long term horizon). Any trade-off in software quality today will have to be paid off at a certain point, either with rework or an increased operational costs spread across the organisation. By having a shared understanding the trade-offs and shared both the short term and long term constraints, teams can prioritise effectively rather than playing the “not my problem” game.
With this partnership in place, product discovery ability is enhanced by technological know-how for the early identification of risks and unknowns that could derail initiatives down the line. Performance and future evolution needs are first-class citizens, enabling faster time to market for future releases. Long term ownership of both problem and solution is built-in, focusing on long-term value creation for customers and the company as a whole.
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