How Customizing Role Definitions Can Give Your Startup a Competitive Advantage

Build an understanding of what is different about your startup:

In this simplified example let’s say you’re building VR/AR video conferencing software that will solve the collaborative whiteboard problem.

  • Your customers currently use video conferencing software but miss using whiteboards to communicate.
  • The platforms your product will support are are changing rapidly since the space is very new.

Identify where your problem may be uniquely helped by blending responsibilities of traditional roles.

Product managers typically own defining the customer problem. However, your engineering managers are already heavy video conferencing and whiteboard users.

Rebalance and tweak over time.

Since you’re asking engineering managers to do more, you’ll need to reduce their load to ensure they are successful. This could mean keeping team sizes smaller, or shifting some responsibilities to other roles.

A rule of thumb

As a guiding principle its best to minimize the number of people working on a given problem. In addition, to more efficient communication and faster iteration you’ll see improved ownership and autonomy for your teams.



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Travis Newcomb

Travis Newcomb

Thoughts on the personal & leadership challenges faced in rapidly growing organizations. (Apple, Chime, Eventbrite, Cisco, …)