“Everyone is blissfully happy and nothing could be better.”
That’s how Patrick Collison, co-founder of new Start-up, Stripe, describes their work environment. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
I stumbled across an interesting article on Forbes today. The article is exact copy of Patrick Collison’s response to a question posted on Quora about Stripe, the startup which he co-founded. So what makes Stripe different from most other start-ups? Well for one, they don’t have any product managers, and according to Collision they intend on keeping it that way. Collison believes that product managers can be “very effective in many companies,” but makes it very clear that “it’s not what Stripe wants right now.” As Collison puts it, product managers “can slow the iteration that’s at the heart of creating great products”. Collison explains that because product managers are the ones who are responsible for both designing and implementing products, the feedback cycle “takes place within that person’s head” and sharing is limited. In addition, even if product managers have good ideas on how the product should work, they may not always have an avenue to share that information effectively, with the right people, both inside and outside the organization.
At Stripe, product managers are non-existent, and it’s the engineers that manage the products themselves. Collision explains that there are many good reasons for this:
1. Engineers at Stripe are not only knowledgeable about building products and about implementation but they also have ideas to share around what the product should do and how it should work.
2. Co-creation is fully embodied and embraced at Stripe. Many of the individuals involved in the development process are actual users and are encouraged to share their input on product improvements, etc. This really drives the point that no one knows products better than the people who actually use them.
3. The founders or (head honchos) of Stripe, all have extensive experience managing products; and as Collison explains “enjoy the process of figuring out how they should work and what they should do.”
4. The engineers in the company are self-sufficient. They proactively suggest new product features or ideas. Collison explains that if an engineer wants to share or put forth a suggestion or idea for a new product release they don’t have to go through multiple levels, or hierarchies to do so.
As an avid writer in the area of product innovation and social collaboration, I can recognize that there are some really great things happening over at Stripe. Realistically, not having dedicated product managers at Stripe, seems to eliminate the silos or bottleneck issues that negatively impact product development and hinders collaboration between stakeholders.
In my opinion, Stripe’s current organizational structure is a great example that highlights the need to redefine the roles of engineers and product managers. Perhaps, instead of eliminating product managers, we could simplify and strengthen the communication between engineers and product managers by providing them with the necessary tools to work smarter. In other words, the right tools to promote the sharing of ideas, create transparency, and encourage discussion and feedback from diverse sources— employees, business partners, customers, and even executive level management.
Share your thoughts on this: Do we need less product managers or better tools?