Michel Ferry, Product Director at PayFit's Foundations Tribe, recently participated in a webinar organized by TAK .

In a context of hypergrowth, teams are multiplying and delivering value is becoming increasingly complex.
To cope with this, the organisation may have to reduce the autonomy of the teams.
There are no miracle recipes or magic tricks on this webinar, but a discussion rich in lessons learned with feedback from 3 expert.

The webinar was hosted by Product coach Florian Zilliox, along with Savinien Lucbéreilh, Partoo CPO. Michel is the guy in the middle, with the PayFit sweater :)

The need to have a number of product teams when growing rapidly sometimes leads to problems of adherence, which affects the autonomy. As a result, the agility of the start-up is compromised and the company no longer delivers as quickly as it was intended.

How to encourage autonomy in product teams when the company is growing rapidly?

In product teams, and even more so in hyper-scale companies, reality often outweighs the best intentions. Among them, the question of autonomy is essential. As Savinien Lucbéreilh (Partoo):

"At the beginning, we were very few in number and we were still figuring things out. But when we became owners in the creation of the roadmap, autonomy came with the ownership of the team and the company vision. This allows one to express oneself and to be creative. But sometimes you have to teach the teams to be autonomous, especially the juniors, while staying within the framework of the vision and the impact on the users."

For Michel Ferry (PayFit), autonomy is essential for the necessary risk-taking:

"You have to give the right framework for it to be expressed. A product team always has a higher impact and is more committed in this way. In any case, no one likes to be micro-managed."

In his experience, this implies 3 conditions:

  • The right people with the right skills
  • The right context, with a clear vision of the company and the product team
  • And putting in place systems that support rapid decision making

Is continuous reorganisation of teams a good practice?

Between the ideal organisation and reality, PayFit had to test several things:

"You learn by doing. Three years ago, there were 250 of us and we had to reorganise the product team, with squads grouped into tribes.

Since then, we've made a lot of progress. But we mustn't forget that we weren't very good at mapping the organisation of teams at the time.

Today, we push them and help them make the right decision if it's not in their hands. The last iteration was a two-step process with an annual roadmap on the big issues of the year and then 6 weeks to know how to contribute in order to achieve the objectives, and eventually propose OKRs on the outcomes.

We have introduced monthly checkpoints to know where we are, to adjust the OKRs, and not to chase unrealistic objectives"

On Partoo's side, Savinien shows that improvement is continuous, from quarter to quarter and the same goes for the roadmap:

"The teams' scopes have been refined over time. We have specialised our 9 feature teams, with 4 autonomous product tribes at the top.

We challenge everything to get to the bottom of the big problems and remove what doesn't work."

In short, the two companies are organised so as not to be stuck between two feature teams!

The hardest thing for both of them to manage unanimously? Communication! Because, caught up in other issues and objectives, it is difficult to get back to the basics. For both of them, this sometimes results in decisions on meetings that bring together ... too many people! In such cases, it is essential to restructure.

Is buy-in ultimately a problem for product teams?

The question of adherence as such is seen as a lesser difficulty or something to be anticipated so as not to be prevented from achieving its objective. Michel shares PayFit's classic scheme:

"We have made sure that we have platform teams to manage the dependencies and manage to map them. A dedicated programme manager is even present to coordinate them and make exchanges more fluid."

The same is true for Savinien at Partoo:

"This subject of buy-in is not really a blocker. I've never thought about it in that way. If we have a problem of this kind, we make sure that it doesn't happen again. We have a tech lead who is present once a month, with a meeting that brings together all the tribes to anticipate buy-in."

What is the level of autonomy of the product teams at PayFit and Partoo today, on a scale of 0 to 5?


"I'd say 4/5. We have been able to define a roadmap, its vision, the okr, but there is always a little bit of autonomy that can be missing, and only from time to time. In terms of scalability, our goal is to re-challenge the vision following a new objective, and to check that everything is trackable, or make it so."


"Three years ago I would have said 2/5 but today we are at 4/5 with a clear vision, product teams with proposals and a healthy dialogue between the two. The point that is missing is the decisions that are not 100% in their power.

Today, our goal is to understand the failures, especially as directors, we don't always have the most fitting ideas. So we have to push the team members to talk about their problems and to feel legitimate to say that a process no longer works.

Finally, as a racing driver used to say: "If everything is under control, it's because we are going too slowly!""

Header photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash.

Original article, translated with permission.