Scaling Product Teams with Sprout Social

5 Introspective Questions for Arnita Curtis, Director of Product from Sprout Social

1. Tell us about your recent growth.  What has been the hardest part with scaling?

I joined Sprout Social in 2014.  We had about 100 people total and 30 product people when we secured Series B financing.  Today (2018), we have about 500 people with around 140 people on the product team. The hardest part with scaling was change management.  With growth like ours, it was difficult communicating change as new teams formed, new people were hired, and existing teams needed to be re-structured.  We had to think about ownership, how to structure customer focus vs specific assignments and how to mix  junior and senior people together.

2. If you could do one thing differently with a growing department (no constraints), what would it be and why?

With no constraints on resources, I would build dedicated innovation teams in each of our key product areas.

3. Did you change your team structure as you grew?  If so, what changed and why?

Yes, we added more specialized skill sets in data science and product marketing to each team.  As well as carving out time for developers and product managers to do other activities. We went through a period where middle management was missing so we promoted internally to fill that gap

4. Did anything surprise you when scaling your team?

Yes, I was surprised how quickly people got attached to their teammates with strong connections / bonds. Teams naturally developed their own fun subcultures, identities, and ceremonies

 5. If you had one piece of advice for growing companies structuring their teams, what would it be and why?

It’s critical that the leaders driving growth and transformation understand the value and importance of laying out clear plans.  You have to be clear where you are and are not investing in growth and why. Then, communicate it internally as soon as possible, through several mediums.  One email is not enough. Evangelism is key.

Bridget McMullan