EMPOWERED – Marty Cagan Book Summary

EMPOWERED – Marty Cagan | Free Book Summary

EMPOWERED – Marty Cagan

Understanding Empowered Teams and how they function

Empowered engineers are the single most important thing that you can have in a company.

Subscribe to AtomicIdeas Newsletter (Free!)

AtomicIdeas newsletter brings you one great bite-sized idea every day, curated from world's best non-fiction books, articles, podcasts..and more. Actionable. Atomic. In just 5 minutes!


The Six Types Of Strategic Context

  • Company Mission – The purpose of the company.
  • Company Scorecard – Key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide an understanding of the overall picture and health of the business
  • Company Objectives 
  • Product Vision and Principles  
  • Team Topology – Describes how each Product team will organise to deliver value.
  • Product Strategy – Specifically how we’ll meet customer needs in ways that work for the business.

Attributes of Great Product People

  • Focus on the outcome
  • Consider all of the risks—value, usability, feasibility, and business viability. 
  • Think holistically about all dimensions of the business and the product. 
  • Anticipate ethical considerations or impacts. 
  • Solve problems creatively.
  • Persist in the face of obstacles. 
  • Leverage engineering and the art of the possible. 
  • Leverage design and the power of user experience. 
  • Leverage data to learn and to make a compelling argument.

Developing and Coaching: The Main Job Of A Leader

  • Spending most of their time and energy coaching the team.
  • Being self-aware of insecurities Insecure managers have a particularly hard time empowering people.
  • Cultivating Diverse Points of View 
  • Seek out teaching moments. Many, if not most, people are not aware of their own potential. As a coach, you are in a unique position to help them see it.
  • Continually earn the trust of your team. Coaching efforts will be ineffective without trust.
  • Establishing personal rapport and trust by sharing some personal challenges.

Keys To An Effective One-On-One Meeting With The Product Person

  • The Purpose – The primary purpose is to help the product person develop and improve.
  • The Relationship – This is a relationship that depends on trust.
  • The Frequency – Should be no less than 30 minutes, once per week, and is sacred and not to be another one of those “You okay with skipping this week?”
  • Sharing Context – If you are to empower you must provide the strategic context.
  • Thinking and Acting Like a Product Person – Mainly about helping the product person learn to think and act like a strong product person.

Optimized Team Design

A product organization’s team topology answers questions such as: Free book, podcast summaries

How many product teams should our organization have? 

What is the scope of responsibility of each team? 

What are the skills required for each team, and how many of each skill? 

What are the dependencies between the teams?  

Optimise team design for:

  • Empowerment
  • Ownership
  • Autonomy
  • Alignment

Signs Your Team Design Is Not Fit-For-Purpose

  • You are frequently shifting developers between teams 
  • You must frequently step in to resolve dependency conflicts 
  • Your developers complain of too many dependencies on other product teams in order to ship simple things 
  • Teams have a very limited scope of ownership 
  • Developers deal with too much complexity in too many areas.

Team Objectives: The Right Way

If the company is still using feature teams, as most unfortunately are, then the OKR technique is going to be a cultural mismatch, and almost certainly prove a waste of time and effort. 

In the vast majority of companies that are struggling to value out of OKRs, the role of leadership is largely missing in action. 

Three prerequisites for OKR’s:

  • Move from the feature team model to the empowered product team model 
  • Stop doing manager objectives and individual objectives, and instead focus on team objectives
  • Leaders need to step up and do their part to turn product strategy into action.

Start The Transformation

You need to move your product organization from a subservient model to a collaborative model. 

Four focus areas:

  • The Example Starts at the Top
  • Focus and Strategy
  • Establishing Trust
  • Deliver on Promises 

Three steps to The Transformation

  • Ensure you have strong product leaders in place.
  • Empower product leaders with the ability to recruit and develop the staff required for empowered product teams.
  • Redefine the relationship with the business.
Get the book!

Get AtomicIdeas newsletter delivered in your inbox.