Every product is a reflection of the team behind it. Just as user interfaces are the conduit between humans and the functionality of products, products are the conduit between customers and the team of people solving a particular problem.

There are no good or bad products, only good or bad teams making products. The product is an extension of the team. Each delightful detail or frustrating interaction is the direct result of decisions made by the team.

The age of shrink-wrapped software is over. It used to be that when a product did what the customer wanted, they could use it unchanged, indefinitely. The point of view of the team behind the product mattered very little. If the shoe fit, you wore it.

But these days, software products are living, evolving organisms. Now, the customer rides shotgun on the road trip of a product’s development. This shifts the focus away from the present state of the product, and towards future iterations. Where will the team take the product next? How will they make the hard prioritization decisions? Will core workflows change? Customers are at the mercy of the team.

Customers are no longer buying static products, they are buying into the point of view and values of the team behind it. They now must trust that the team deeply understands the problem at hand, and will not leave them high and dry with unexpected curve balls and poor prioritization. The line between product and team is blurring, and now, more than ever, the quality of the team is just as important as the quality of the product.