Jeff Gothelf

Jeff Gothelf is a designer & Agile practitioner. He is a leading voice on the topics of Agile UX & Lean UX and a highly sought-after international speaker. He is currently a Managing Director in Neo's New York City office. Previously, Jeff has led teams at TheLadders, Publicis Modem, WebTrends, Fidelity, & AOL.

Four Qualities of Successful In-House Innovation Teams

Considering the "two pizza" team

One of the most common questions I get about applying lean ideas to product design and development is, “How can I make this happen in my organization?” Between entrenched corporate silos and existing team management structures, it can seem impossible for these ideas to take root in large companies. Over the course of a series of blog posts, I thought I’d share a few tactics I’ve used and have seen work with other teams to help get you started. In this first post in the series, I’d like to talk about how to structure your teams.

As much as who you hire, structuring your teams effectively is key to a lean team’s success. Many companies see the individual disciplines in their product development organization as service providers—internal agencies. The business reaches out to these agencies (engineering, UX/design, product management, et al.), expresses a need for staffing and the discipline lead provides the resources based on expertise, availability, and project fit. It sounds like a reasonable and efficient way to staff a project and to that extent it is—however, our goal should not be to simply staff a project but to build a team.

When building your team, focus on the following four criteria to maximize their chances for success:

1. Small

Keeping your team small means everyone on the team knows each other—on a first name basis. It’s easier to manage a small team. It’s simpler for the team members to know who to go to when they need something specific. It’s easier to keep track of work accomplished and work left to do.
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