In this #mtpcon Digital Americas session, Karishma Irani, group product manager at LaunchDarkly explains a Triad team structure that can increase effectiveness when planning and scoping out new product ideas. Her key points include:

  • Create triads for effective communication
  • How does this work in practice?
  • Objections against Triads
  • Build the machine that builds the product

Watch this video or read on for key highlights from the session.

Create triads for effective communication 

In her example, the goal of her new product was to increase the options that users take. When passing this project on design, their role in achieving this goal was mapping the UI to reflect this either-or, while for engineering, the aim was to build the most flexible API. Different teams handle different tasks which can often complicate the ultimate understanding of a goal. 

Her solution to ensure that product managers, engineers, and designers were collaborating effectively was instilling a triad concept. “The idea of this concept is to get a representative from every group to create a fundamental leadership team. Every problem and solution on any product should have a dedicated triad for it.” Karishma says.

Karishma lists five reasons why she believes that integrating Triads is a game-changer in projects: 

Shared ownership leads to shared understanding. If you don’t have a shared understanding of what you’re trying to solve or what the customer pain point is, you’re not going to have a shared outcome, she says. 

Handoffs are deadly. Miscommunication issues can occur when specifications get handed to different teams. Karishma explains that once you hand this idea to 3 different groups, you may end up creating an idea that customers won’t care about. Creating a Triad will ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Product development is a team sport. Creating products truly is a sport, Karishma says, not just a statement. Every team has a responsibility to build one product. The user isn’t aware of what decisions are made beforehand — they only see the final product. 

Triads have tie-breakers. Many people within product management have felt like the bad person having to push ideas back and forth, or reject them altogether. In a triad structure where you have all representatives from each team, it enables all representatives to be held accountable for ideas. Doing this consequently pushing ideas forward faster, and in a much more consistent matter. 

Look for the product gene in every team member. It can be enjoyable working with all teams to work together and create an idea. Karishma says that the Triad can accommodate everyones’ thoughts on a product to push features forward. 

How does this work in practice? 

Dual-track agile splits all three teams (product, design, and engineering) into teams into two. One team is focusing on discovery — deciding what to build, while the Delivery team focuses on building the product based on these ideas. For example, the discovery team will work on ideas 1-5 while the delivery team will work on delivering the ideas that make it through. 

During the discovery phase to get the most out of your Triad, don’t start with the feature idea, start with a goal. Then, hypothesise potential solutions. Speak to your customers, validate them, then plan and estimate. “Discovery should precede planning and that’s when the Triad comes in,” Karishma says.

How do we discover? Karishma lists her best practices. 

Set goals: Start with a problem to solve

Initiate customer research: Spend time with customers to identify possible solutions 

Create posters and demo trusts: Map out and validate our hypothesis

Commence team kickoff: Bring in the full team

Karishma shares an example of what dual-track agile looks like in practice. 

While the discovery team go through idea numbers 1-5, the delivery team works with them to start building the ideas. These are constantly overlapping to create an effective agile and cross-collaborative system. 


Many organisations choose not to use this Triad system for a number of reasons. Karishma addresses these misconceptions linked to this concept. 

Engineers are all too busy. Engineering teams are always so busy working on multiple projects and working in a Triad could fill up their time even more. However, Karishma believes that being part of this system enables engineers to be involved in the ideas in the early stages. This helps them to catch failures early enough that consequently saves them time later down the line. “The benefit of having engineers involved early on outweighs them spending unnecessary time on products and ideas that they would have,” she says. 

But there’s no UI. There doesn’t need to be UI to validate ideas, Karishma believes. Talk to customers, talk to your team about ideas. When you have a solidified idea you can then ask a UI to assess it. 

There’s no one responsible. There doesn’t need to be anyone responsible, Karishma says. The idea of a triad is that everyone owns the success of the project, she says. “It’s great when there’s not one person responsible, you don’t need that. It’s a team effort,” she explains.

We can’t afford it. Many organisations believe that it’s expensive to have a discovery for a product you may not end up building. It’s more expensive to not have the Triad, Karishma believes. Speak to customers and work with them in the planning and discovery phase to build the right thing and at the right time.

Build the machine that builds the product 

Karishma says that several organisations focus on just building the product, but does it always produce value? The same resources that are dedicated to building a product that fails could have been used for planning as well as building a product that matters. 

Triads go all the way up and down. The goal is to get alignment from all teams at every single level. 

Wrapping up, Karishma explains that Triads — if done right — is satisfying when you reach the end goal that you’ll see through customer satisfaction. It’ll truly help you succeed (and fail) as a team. 

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