Team leads are different….

Team leads are different. Your job, should you accept it, is to become what I’ve lovingly dubbed Shit Umbrella. Your goal is to find all of the peripheral stuff involved in getting the product out the door—important stuff, such as making sure the delivery schedule for the new servers makes sense for when you want to ship the product that needs them, or taking customer calls at 11 PM on a Sunday because their account quit working and they want to know why they should keep paying you, or figuring out when doing features the sales and support teams want makes financial sense—and then coming back and presenting a focused direction to all the developers so that they can get the features written without worrying about how they actually ship.

Benjamin Pollack writing about his experiences of being promoted to a team lead. It’s one of the best first-hand accounts that I’ve read of what it means to lead product and engineering teams.

I’ve seen this happen in software companies, but elsewhere too. It was one of the major reasons for my leaving the BBC: I loved being a journalist, I didn’t even slightly envy the people in the jobs above me; they were great journalists being asked to be great managers, and that’s hard — especially without support and training.


Fred Wilson on the Startup Curve

It turns out, like most success stories, the answer was simplifying the service. Taking features out. Reducing the value proposition to a clear and simple use case. This was not done in a vacuum. This was done by releasing a less than perfect product to the market, finding a few customers who wanted a less than perfect product, and then listening carefully to those customers to get to the ideal product.

Fred Wilson on how a portfolio company found the Promised Land of Paul Graham’s startup curve.