How I Coordinate With Other Groups Building Complicated Products

Feb 02, 2024 3:10 pm

Happy Friday,

I admit I'm guilty of daydreaming when I drive. I don't know what other folk's daydreams are, but many of mine are around my professional life and imaginary client conversations. That was weird to admit.

Anyway, in one of these conversations, an imaginary client asked me to talk about something impressive. I started to tell a story about building an entirely new line of business from within a Fortune 10 company. The part I found myself focusing on might surprise you.

I talked an awful lot about my ability to work with other groups like legal, security, finance, etc.

In my story, I talked about how shocked my clients were when they learned I worked with all of these external groups. They were more shocked when they learned how quickly I got everything done. Their jaws dropped when those groups said how much they liked working with me.

I established contracts and handled all the legal concerns within three months, whereas most teams take over a year. Figuring out how to handle payments, taxes, and accounting took just a few weeks, and nobody else knew where to begin. Handling privacy and security compliance happened on a 30-minute phone call, and the security folks remarked they had never granted approval that quickly.

My imaginary client egged me on, saying, "Well, how'd you pull that off?"

This was my moment. I better not disappoint myself.

"Uh..." I began.

"For the most part, I just start working with them a long time before it's going to be stressful."

Do you see why these imaginary conversations might be helpful? I say things that are completely obvious and unimpressive.

But it works really well.

The bottom line is no business in the world builds slack into their schedules, so when you need something from someone else, there is no room. If you come in a few months prior to it becoming an emergency, you can slowly work the problem and get into their schedule. Simple!

What do people do instead?

Wait until they're out of time, and in those first calls with these other groups, say something like, "Look, we need to get this done in a week or two if we're going to make our deadline."

The other side of that is that because they waited so long, they most likely made a bunch of decisions under the assumption things would work out. Those assumptions always wind up being wrong. I guarantee if you build a product assuming the legal team won't find the risk that isn't acceptable, you're in for a bad time. The same goes for security or working with marketing for a launch.

I've been able to make working with difficult groups look easy. I call them early, ask what I need to know and do, and do it. Then when it's time to get everything signed off on its easy and I didn't have to re-work anything because I built in what was required instead of fixing things.

So yeah, that's my secret. Maybe you can think of a time when calling these groups early made a big difference or a time when waiting made things stressful.

Here's my weekly update for February 2nd, 2024...

🗒️ Stop Planning and Start Learning


The book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries swept through the product and business world in 2011, and it had a simple message: Organizations that learn the fastest win.

He also brought the concept of Minimum Viable Product to life.

Click here to read more

🗒️ The Quick and the Dead of Prioritization


I’ve often felt like one of my natural talents or superpowers is how I prioritize features for products.

Now, I know it is easy for anyone to feel that way, but there is a very sharp contrast between the backlogs I create and what most others create.

Click here to read more

🗒️ Agile Isn’t Dead, But Your Career Might Be


All over LinkedIn, my feed is full of people saying Agile is dead or that Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches aren’t needed.

I understand both the sentiment and the clickbait nature of this kind of headlines.

Though if it were clickbait, people would say the opposite of their title in what they write, but they don’t.

They continue to write that agile failed, and these roles and frameworks failed, too.

Click here to read more


Ryan Latta

PS: I'm taking on new clients. You can schedule a call with me using this link. It's free, and talking about real problems is better than imaginary ones!