Trifecta: How to maximize product teams’ impact

High team morale and performance are root causes to ship, launch and land a great product. It starts with a high-performing trifecta.

Trifecta: How to maximize product teams’ impact
Trifecta goal — illustration by the author

Introduction & Definition

In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of “trifecta” (also called triad in some organizations) that I have seen used successfully in the past both at start-ups and even at large-scale organizations (ex: Shopify).

Let’s start with a definition. The trifecta represents a subset of a product team whose goals are to capture systematically:

  • value: for the business
  • usability: for the user
  • feasibility: technological, ethical, legal, etc.

Valuable & Usable & Feasible are the trifecta goal!

I will use the term craft in this article and would also like to define it: a craft is one or more people inside the product team with their hierarchy, rituals and specialties. Example of craft includes engineering (sometimes back-end, front-end, mobile), UX (designer, researcher, content specialist, etc.), Product (product manager, product owner, product lead, etc.), data-science (data-scientist, etc.), commercial, legal, etc. Each organization is different and has a different structure to execute its mission. In this article, I will refer to “craft” as the various specialties & hierarchies that exist within the organization.

Most of the time, the trifecta comprises the senior team members of the essential crafts required to build, launch and land your product. Launching a product is easy, but landing it is the hard part ;-)

Depending on the maturity of your organization and team size, it can be a team of 1 (CEO/Founder), 2 (co-founders), 3 (UX, Product, Engineering) or more (commercial, data, partnership, etc.) depending on the problem space the product team is tackling.

The trifecta is an integral part of the product team and a kind of council of the wise that ensures alignment in all day-to-day activities.

Most of the time, most trifecta members will have authority over some of the product team members as they lead/manage people directly. This statement is often true in the case of UX and engineering. This statement is false for product managers as they don't lead other PMs in the (same) product team.

Here is an example of a typical “classical” trifecta with three trifecta members and a product team of 11 people.

Typical trifecta and product team composition — Illustration by the author
  • Feasibility/Engineering: Staff Developer (leading a team of developers)
  • Usability/UX: Senior Designer (leading a team of UX folks)
  • Value/Product: Product Manager
  • Feasibility/Data: Senior Data-scientist (leading a team of data-scientist)

Note: The “tri” in trifecta does not relate to the number of people in the trifecta (three main crafts: UX, Engineering and Product). It symbolizes that each trifecta member has a responsibility to help the product team make significant decisions quickly so that each decision results in a systematically valuable, feasible and usable product.