Episode 21: Power of Alignment w/Heather Kay

18 August, 2020 / Host: Magnus Billgren

Building Sustainable Product Teams Through Alignment

On this episode of The Productbeats Show, Heather Kay discusses the challenges and solutions involved in improving the product development process at Synchron. Synchron is a company that provides inventory management and pricing solutions for aftermarkets, serving customers across different industries. One of the challenges the company faces is teams working in silos, lack of transparency, and understanding across functions and the organization.

Heather and John Broome, the head of product management, wanted to improve the product development process by creating a single framework that combines product management and software development. This framework helps them to have a common language and understanding across different functions.

Teams Are More Sustainable Than Individuals

Working with NGO development, I learned about the Swedish expression "eldsjäl," which translates into the soul of fire. It describes an extremely passionate individual who can do and is doing everything. However, organizations built solely on "eldjälar" will always collapse. The reason being that teams are more sustainable than individuals.

As Kay points out, "Product management is not just one person's job. It's really a team effort." Working collaboratively allows for a more diverse set of perspectives and ideas, and can lead to better outcomes for the product. Additionally, it can help distribute workload and prevent burnout for individuals. By building a strong team, product managers can focus on their strengths and delegate tasks to others on the team who excel in different areas.

To build a successful team, it's important to foster a culture of collaboration and communication. This means setting clear expectations and goals, encouraging feedback, and creating an environment where everyone's ideas are valued. By working together and leveraging each other's strengths, product teams can create sustainable, successful products that meet customer needs.

The Role of Product Managers

Many product managers are too ambitious and try to do everything themselves. While it's the product manager's responsibility to ensure that product management is done, they don't need to do everything themselves. Instead, the product manager should focus on creating an environment for teams and collaborations.

As Kay explains, "The product manager is the glue that holds everything together...it's not about being the smartest person in the room, it's about being able to bring people together and move the project forward." By creating a common language and understanding across different functions, the product manager can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and objectives.

Designing an Organization and Way of Working

Creating a way of working that makes collaboration easier is essential. During an earlier episode with Roman Pichler, we discussed how to deal with stakeholders, but there are also other solutions to the problem of teams. Solutions based on proactivity.
Heather shared the process and the result of their new way of working at Synchron. They started by choosing a starting point and visualizing the existing way of working. Then, they began improving the process and integrated the heart of UX with the logic of product management.

Establishing a Documented Way of Working

Kay and her team at Synchron faced the challenge of teams working in silos, lack of transparency and understanding across functions and the organization. In order to improve the product development process, they sought to create a single framework that combined product management and software development. This framework helped establish a documented way of working that makes it easier for everyone to contribute in the product management work.
As Kay notes, "The terminology we use makes it easier for everyone to contribute, it's like we are all speaking the same language." By involving colleagues in the process of developing the framework and creating a shared understanding of how product management should work, Synchron was able to establish a more collaborative environment that is built on sustainable product teams.


  • Collaborative teams are more sustainable than individuals. Creating an environment that encourages collaboration and teamwork is crucial for successful product development.
  • The role of a product manager is to secure that product management is done, but not necessarily to do everything themselves. Product managers should focus on empowering their teams and creating a shared language and understanding across functions.
  • Establishing a documented way of working can improve collaboration and streamline product development. By involving colleagues in the process, everyone can contribute to the product management work and build sustainable product teams.

Now that you have a better understanding of the power of alignment and the role of product managers in creating sustainable product teams, you might be wondering how to further develop your product management skills. The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program is designed to help you become a well-rounded product manager, equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the fast-paced world of product development. With a focus on hands-on learning, our program covers everything from product strategy and roadmap planning to user research and agile development methodologies. If you're interested in taking your product management career to the next level, consider joining our certification program today.
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Episode 20: Executable Product Strategy w/Harri Pendolin

Episode 16: Solution Management w/Greg Prickril

Episode 2: How to Lead in Product Management w/Roman Pichler