Weathering the Storm of Structural Organizational Changes

As a product scales alongside the company at large, leaders must often find new ways to organize their people.
Written by Jeff Kirshman
February 16, 2022Updated: February 16, 2022

A company is a living organism, constantly evolving and looking to grow. When nurtured correctly, it will begin to scale to ensure its survival. 

The relationship between business and nature is a concept LeafLink knows well. The unified B2B cannabis platform boasts a product management team that has nimbly weathered the inevitable storm of structural organizational changes, establishing a strong product vision as it continues to yield value for its customers. 

The foundation of the company is as strong as ever. While LeafLink has undoubtedly matured since its earliest iterations, the New York-based startup remains firmly rooted in its commitment to shaping the future of cannabis and building technology that keeps the industry moving forward.  

“This new structure puts product teams in the driver’s seat,” Senior Director of Product Management Erik Dawson said. “By establishing a strong product vision between PMs and partners, we’re able to operate as one team to identify customer needs and drive results.” 

Built In New York connected with Dawson to learn more about how LeafLink’s product management team works in tandem with the rest of the organization, and how the platform has found new ways to organize its members as its product scales alongside the company at large.  

 

Erik Dawson
Sr. Director, Product Management • LeafLink

 

How big is your product management team, and how is it structured?

LeafLink’s product management team is mighty and growing. We’ve set up a domain and pod structure to enable product-led growth. Our domains are a collection of pods focused on core areas of our business that unlock value for the customer. These include commerce, enterprise capabilities, payments, logistics, integrations and platform. 

Our pods are set up so they have autonomy and ownership over specific product features, plus responsibility for driving customer and business outcomes through our quarterly objectives and key results process. They also work closely together to build customer experiences that are unified across products and features. 

Pods are staffed with product, engineering, design and data team members. They operate as one team, and they have everyone necessary to identify customer needs. They also target product opportunities, define goals and objectives, and design experiments and solutions to drive results. For example, our commerce domain is focused on enabling buyers to do business with sellers. And within that domain, our checkout and order management pod is responsible for order workflows to increase customer efficiency and checkout conversion.

Our pods are set up so they have autonomy and ownership over specific product features.”

 

How has that structure changed during the life of LeafLink?

It hasn’t always been this way! LeafLink has evaluated our product team’s structure at key points of our growth. In earlier stages of the company, we were focused on building the basic product functionality and creating product-market fit, so our pods had a broader scope. They changed more often to react to product-market fit needs. Teams were smaller and product managers and engineers did more of their own design and data work. 

Now, we’ve grown our team and built out design and data functions. Our pods have narrower scope and can go deeper. They also  have autonomy, space and time to develop their own strategies to meet customer needs, drive results, evaluate progress, and iterate on problems and opportunities. 

 

Looking forward, at what point does the current structure break down at scale? And what comes next?

We’re building a product-led organization, and our current structure is designed for teams to have autonomy, decision authority, and ownership over strategy and execution as we scale. We’re mostly focused around product feature sets right now, so there is room for us to explore expanding our shared services teams, which will help centralize capabilities so domains can focus even more on products and customer personas.

Additionally, we will be standardizing our product practices and tools to help us increase efficiency and quality as we scale. This standardization also helps us onboard new product team members efficiently as we grow. Finally, we’re doubling down on working together as one team across domains, pods, and with partners like marketing and sales on large programmatic efforts that require cross-functional collaboration. We’ve established a “scrum of scrums” structure to help our teams build unified experiences for our customers.

 

 

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