By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Equitable Partnership

Section horizontal lineReturn to Case Studies


When I joined Homeday, Although the product squads were delivering output, there were large areas of disjunction and dissatisfaction among the teams. Product management was thought of as the single most wringable neck of the squad and would hold all responsibility and, therefore, most ownership over the products built. This wasn‘t only a problem for team engagement and happiness but also wasn‘t making the best use of all the experts we had hired from the distinct disciplines. Luckily my peers in leadership and I were all open to change and improvement.

product management, UX design and Engineering in waterfall


With more and better talent coming in through hiring and big growth ambitions for our company, we set out to improve the collaboration of our product squads. Our success would be measured by improvements in reaching our OKRs, employee satisfaction which we surveyed, and scoring of squad performance.

Evaluating squad performance

Internal Research

To find out what was already working well and what still needed to be improved, we ran individual workshops in all disciplines (product management, engineering, and UX design), evaluating the status of the collaboration as well as what each of the domains was expecting from the others in terms of their role definition.

Internal research - whiteboard

Some of the main issues we found were that while product managers were okay with taking on responsibilities for squad outcomes, they wished for more ownership and support from their squad members. Both UX and engineering wanted more freedom and input in what the squad was building. As the product manager had been the sole communicator to stakeholders, some felt reduced to execution and needed more information to be impactful. In large parts, these were process and communication issues only.

Leadership Adaptation

Supported by our CEO, we spend an extensive period evaluating our leadership roles and defining overlaps and responsibilities. We knew we needed to improve our collaboration as leaders, as the behavior and patterns we displayed would reflect in our organizations. Only if we became partners at eye level could we expect our team members to do the same.

turning into a cohesive leadership unit

By acknowledging the needs and dependencies of each individual and the team they represented, we turned three leaders with loose and sometimes unclear communication patterns into a cohesive leadership unit to build a compelling product department. While we would still hold responsibility for our crafts, we joined forces as the „digital products“ unit.

Squad Trios

Venn diagram product, UX and engineering

We decided to operationalize the new roles and responsibilities and tackle the discovered challenges by forming trios in the squads. Each squad would be guided by a trio of engineering managers, product managers, and UX designers. Together the trio would lead the team through the discovery and delivery process to ensure each discipline was involved early and had sufficient information. In addition, they would meet regularly to discuss process improvements for their squad.


It‘s not a one-way street. Achievements in collaboration need to require continuous care need to be worked on and improved, especially in high-growth organizations that experience new talent joining every month. Even after collaboration improvements, our squads often jumped to solutions too early without proper problem discovery. Staying in an equitable partnership required continued structural guidance. To solve this, I introduced the double diamond design process in a follow-up project.

The fact that the engineering managers of the triors were also people managers turned out to be stressful, as some struggled to wear both heads simultaneously. In these cases, one of the senior engineers took over the role of trio member unofficially.