Why We Traded Scrum for “Science Fair” to Build HubSpot

We broke up with scrum about six years ago.

Agile development served us well in startup mode, but as we added more seats, opened new space, and launched new tools, it actually started to stunt our product culture’s growth. Take autonomy, for starters. We think engineers should have complete autonomy over their code and part of the product. And even though scrum is designed to protect developers from the demands and distractions of your CEO, marketing team, sales team, etc., it can actually tie their hands. There’s no trust being built between product and the rest of the company; sprints end up more like transactions than conversations.

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What the Best Product Manager Candidates Say During an Interview

Whether you’re trying to break into the world of product management or have been part of it for years, interviewing for a product manager role is hard. There’s no one right answer to any question because there’s no one right way to do product management. The skills and perspectives that would make you a great PM at one organization might not translate at others. But there’s one thing that is true across the board and that’s that preparation can make or break an interview.

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Mastering the Product Demo 

Most product demos are disastrous. Spotty internet connections, software glitches, and fuzzy narratives come to mind. It’s rare to watch or give a product demo that doesn’t feel disjointed and unless product people have a regular platform like Science Fair to practice, improving can be a slower (and more painful) process than it should be.

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Redesigning a Website to Attract Top Product Talent

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A few months ago, we really started to think about how we can scale our product team long-term. Engineers, designers, and product managers are hard to hire, especially ones that will raise the average of an already world-class team. A big part of attracting that level of talent is being intentional about how we tell the story of product and engineering at HubSpot. Today, after redesigning our homepage and jobs pages, we launched a new and improved product.hubspot.com. Here’s how it happened and what the redesign is doing for our inbound recruiting framework.

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How Medium is Engineering Holacracy [Q&A with Daniel Pupius]

The only thing as important as building product, in the engineering world, is building product culture. Structuring a team, figuring out the right development process, and scaling that processes is a science. A hard science. I’m always curious to learn how other engineering organizations operate for this reason. Especially when that organization is building the world’s favorite publishing platform: Medium

The company is pioneering a relatively new type of management system called Holacracy. Medium’s Head of Engineering, Daniel Pupius, wrote an interesting post about how they’ve designed a holacratic organization and how it's providing them with a new kind of manager. He wrote that a “common misconception about Holacracy is that it’s a flat organization structure” when in practice, their organization is built around a hierarchy of circles and roles. 

I had the opportunity to ask Dan the questions below about what this structure means for their engineers and how it shapes their product culture, team, and development process. 

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The Hard Part About Creating New Teams Within an Engineering Organization

Part of continuous innovation means we’re constantly spinning up new teams with new missions within our product organization. One of the key challenges here is ensuring that team has the core HubSpot DNA that will allow it to be fully successful on its mission. Growing that DNA in isolation is possible, but slow. Finding a way to quickly infuse our core values and culture into those teams can really accelerate their ramp. As our team and product grows, we’ve been investing more energy into finding that solution, and we think we might be onto something.

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