Introducing Ourspace and The Future of Team Design

Introducing Ourspace and The Future of Team Design

Megan Murphy Cofounder & CEO

November 2022

The most gratifying moment I’ve had as a leader was one of my direct reports telling me, “I feel like I know exactly where we’re going, and I’m in the right role to get us there.” I wish I could tell you I had a lot of moments like this in the product leadership roles I’ve held, but in truth they’re few and far between.

That experience altered my understanding of leadership and made me realize the highest leverage work I could do was to make space for every person in my team to make their biggest impact.

So I compiled a 7-tab spreadsheet with inputs from 4 Confluence pages and 5+ Miro boards to track all the details for my 50-person product team with each individual’s expertise, seniority, goals, tenure, project ownership, upcoming vacation plans and planned sabbaticals. The complexity of this puzzle only grew when my fellow department leads and I tried to align across the disciplines and company goals.

This work consumed so much of my headspace that I started to wonder if that’s all the VP of Product role at scale really was. I loved seeing each person fulfilling their goals alongside our team goals but what it took from me became unsustainable.

I reached out to peers in similar roles at other companies to see what I was missing, and I learned we were all poorly equipped to do two very simple things: get the right people on the right teams and the right teams on the right problems.

The problem: Current options were painful to maintain and hard to scale

What started out as casual conversations with a few folks in my network ballooned into a proper research study with product, engineering, design, and growth leaders at 60+ tech companies. A resounding “Omg, managing my people/product/tech stack puzzle is a nightmare!” prevailed. Take this example — an actual spreadsheet from a 700-person tech company that manually updates ownership lines and squads with no links to HR or finance tools, nor visibility to the broader company as only its 7 VPs have access.

Here’s another view of a complicated Airtable from an 8,000 person scaleup — meant for engineering leadership’s eyes only.

This Miro board from a 300-person remote-first company includes 7 versions of potential squad structures with more than 150 comments from leaders debating various pros and cons. This was replicated on a quarterly basis.

The examples are endless and the hours spent mapping and re-mapping teams in documents that quickly go obsolete is far more than most leaders like to admit (although one Director of Engineering at a 2,000+ employee scale-up shared, “at least half my working time is spent on building and re-building teams every week. It’s what I’m paid for.”).

Even with modern HR software, which helps people leaders streamline essential employee data, tech leaders are left without anything to help respond to everyday changes from resignations to scaling up or down to new OKR alignment. HR tools might show you who reports to whom, but it doesn’t do much to show how work actually gets done in a modern, decentralized organization with multidisciplinary teams.

With tech companies experiencing the second-highest turnover rates of all industries, leaders face an uphill battle to build and ship customer value while they’re in an endless pursuit of hiring, onboarding, shuffling, promoting and offboarding their people.

The solution: Going from taped together to purpose-built

In that discovery journey of talking to almost 100 leaders in 60+ tech companies, I was humbled to find that two whom I knew especially well were — like me — crazy enough to leave their roles and career paths to work together and solve this problem. As co-founders, Stephanie Bowker, Mark Allen, and I bonded over our shared challenges in struggling to proactively restructure and align our teams at scale. We also share an enthusiasm for this new age of work where transparency, inclusion and collaboration are the status quo. As previous leaders of product, tech and marketing teams ourselves, we’ve struggled to find a solution to design our teams and broader organizations through both a people-centric and a business outcome lens.

Which is why we’ve built Ourspace, a collaborative team design canvas for leaders to do right by their people and their business. We offer a visual playground that puts the context leaders need front and center when responding to the inevitable changes and challenges that arise everyday — whether it affects a single team or your entire organization. What’s more, we aim to make Ourspace available as a source of truth for everyone in the company to navigate the dynamic relationships between people, teams, and ownership areas across the product and tech stack.

Solving the people puzzle

We believe that in today’s software-led world, we need to do better. We need to raise the bar in how we design the teams building software that shapes our future. We believe that a purpose-built product to design teams isn’t just more efficient than stitching together various documents, but it will better equip leaders to walk the talk in putting their people first. Over time, we aim to serve a broader purpose: helping leaders in the 90% of organizations who struggle to create diverse and inclusive working cultures. Diversity & Inclusion isn’t (and never has been) a uniquely recruitment or HR challenge. It’s an all-of-us opportunity. Ourspace will equip leaders to design teams not just based on skills, domain expertise, and seniority, but give them visibility into how well each team represents the diverse mix of talent we’re all striving for.

If you’re a leader in a dynamic organization where everyday brings a new challenge, we want to support you through all those ups and downs! Sign up for ourwaitlist for early access.

Team Ourspace ☄️

Mark, Megan & Steph