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Tonal's Product Team Hub
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tonal2
Tonal's Product Team Hub

How we foster alignment, adoption, and agility to help every team be their strongest.
Collaboration is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we all know that the best products and the best businesses are built on heavy collaboration. But after almost a decade of high’s and low’s as a product manager, I’ve learned this fundamental truth:
The more points of collaboration you have, the higher the risk of misalignment. And the cost of misalignment doesn’t just affect the business. It affects the team — leading to a loss in morale, productivity, and peace of mind.
I acutely felt this pain when I first started leading Tonal’s Content Experience team. Strategy briefs and PRDs lived in dozens of Google Docs, roadmaps were disconnected across stale spreadsheets, and teams were working off of information that was outdated. Teams were frustrated and overworked ultimately due to gaps in alignment.
This is why I believe every team needs an alignment enforcer — a solution that keeps your team in lockstep. For us at Tonal, the team hubs we’ve built in Coda have become our alignment enforcer.
Each team hub is now the single link for our entire team’s work, from planning to execution. Instead of creating separate docs scattered across the ether, we now have a single Coda doc, organized into pages:
And more...

Before: Scattered docs, confusion, and wasted time.

There’s a moment every product team faces that I call the “doc-splosion:” when the number of docs, decks, spreadsheets, and tools you use finally becomes unmanageable. As information gets scattered and data becomes stale, it gets harder and harder for the team to stay aligned.
For us at Tonal, this led to three problems:
Complex wayfinding: Everyone was confused and wasting time looking for information. “Where’s that link again? What’s the latest progress on our OKRs?”
Time-consuming updates: Product managers were spending hours compiling and re-writing slide decks to update executives on our progress—copying, pasting, and re-telling the same story again and again.
Misalignment: Even if we managed to keep our team’s information organized, it was impossible to navigate between departments and teams.
In my early attempts to combat these problems, I onboarded the team onto one giant roadmap in a spreadsheet that basically looked like a paint-by-numbers––it was fickle, but it stood. This worked fine until a coach got sick. I tried adapting the roadmap to account for a missed milestone, and then, the whole thing fell apart. There were too many disconnected dependencies to communicate downstream. It turns out the team didn’t even know how to integrate the sheet into their workflow to begin with.
Our work passes through many hands—from the coaches, to editors, curriculum writers, producers, directors, and so on. So we needed a solution that would seamlessly connect our work, adapt to our process, and be easy to adopt.
Finally, thanks to a friend’s nudge, I prototyped a new Content hub in Coda, starting with connected views for just 2 teams. This prototype eventually evolved to have 20-25 custom views of the same data across 12 steps in our workflow. Once I realized that anyone could have their own view with whichever parameters they cared about, I thought to myself:
“There’s no other tool that could do this as seamlessly as Coda.”
There’s magic in having an interconnected workspace, with personalized views for each team––protecting teams from cognitive overload, while keeping all our work synced to a single source of truth.

Now: A centralized hub for organized and effective collaboration.

Our product team hub now centralizes our data in a way we never could before, reshaping the way we communicate and collaborate. I can't imagine how our team would work without it. Because not only does the hub bridge our docs, meetings, and tools; the hub bridges teams––connecting the product team to our engineers, designers, user researchers, marketers, and leadership. That’s why I’m excited to share how this single hub has solved our three challenges:

1. Simplified wayfinding.

The fun part of building product is that things constantly change. As our ideas and processes evolve, our team hub easily flexes to meet our needs. When we need more space, we just create a new page in the doc:
Need to write a new PRD? Just add a page to
, rather than trying to manage multiple folders on Google Drive. All our active PRD’s are nested under , then move to once the feature ships.
Need more space for brainstorming Q4 plans? No need to create yet another doc; just add a page under so it can be easily found by the team.
Have a great design to share with the team? Just embed your Figma file like this: and keep working on it with your team without leaving the hub.
Because our key documents and apps are integrated in a central hub, we now have a true single source of truth. This allows us to have just one link for our entire product planning and execution process, and everyone knows where to go for whatever they need.

Tonal page list (6).png

2. Automated updates.

One of a product manager’s primary jobs is hopping between altitudes: going down into the weeds with an engineer at 10:00 am, then convincing an executive of a high-level product vision at 11:00 am. Now, traveling between altitudes is so much easier because of three key features of our hub:
After using Coda for a bit, I’ve started thinking in pages and tables. It’s such a better way to organize and communicate ideas. I don’t think I could live without it. Now, traveling between altitudes is so much easier because of two key features in our team hub:
1. Sync pages for exec updates: I have a living that executives sync into their briefing doc. They visit the same link each week and have confidence that the data is automatically up-to-date, because it’s connected to the actual work. And because the dashboard self-updates, I don’t have to waste time building a slide deck and can spend more time on more impactful work.
2. Personalized views: We have a single base table for , but each person on the team can have their own view of the goals relevant to them. I look at my view of the table every day. When the data is updated in one view, it simultaneously updates in all the other views.
Tonal synced pages - exec dash (2).png
3. Jira with 2-way sync: Previously, PMs didn't have full visibility into the engineers’ work in Jira, which itself wasn’t always up-to-date. Features were getting shipped with a lot more turbulence than necessary. But now, with 2-way sync, PMs can now make changes in Coda that automatically update in Jira, and vice versa. Syncing Jira & Coda in this way has been a huge unlock for us and freed engineers to stay focused in Jira, where they can trust data to be the most updated.

3. Connected teams.

A funny thing started happening when we rolled out our Product Team Hub. When an engineer had a question about our OKRs, we sent them our team hub link. When marketing wanted to see the progress of a Jira issue, we sent them our team hub link.
Soon, other teams realized they could answer many of their questions just by looking in our team hub. Then, those teams created their own hubs.
Within Tonal, there is now a network of inter-connected team hubs. We recently learned that some teams spend just as much, or even more time in our team hub than our own team does. The hub has naturally become a nexus point for cross-functional collaboration:
Within the team: by organizing work into pages and connecting all our specialist apps into one place.
Between teams: by giving space for engineering, design, UXR, and marketing teams to work together.
Between altitudes: by facilitating both top-down and bottom-up communication between executives and teams.
Between team hubs: by syncing important pages and data between docs.
Network of hubs.png
In short, our team hubs replace siloed documents and spreadsheets with an all-in-one platform for our work. While each team customizes their own hub to fit their unique rituals, they all serve as a single source of truth, keeping everyone in lockstep.
Coda isn't going to magically solve collaboration challenges on day one, but it gives you the tools and the flexibility to solve them in whichever way makes sense for your organization. And, you can evolve it over time as your needs change too. It's an iterative process; in two months time, our hub will probably look a little bit different, but we're learning as we go and will continue to ‘product manage’ our process.
hub

Ready to build your own team hub?

Feel free to explore Tonal’s team hub using the page list on the left (or below on mobile). When you’re ready to build your own team hub, you can copy this simple template and follow the guided onboarding.

Credits

A huge round of thanks to all the product folks who helped review and refine this template:
Emily Bilotti, Ben Borowski, Sean Cosier, Shreyas Doshi, Rachel Ding, Justin Hales, Sean Hanley, Zac Hays, Michelle Khare, Shishir Mehrotra, Nicole Nichols, Shiva Rajaraman, Brooke Sanderson, Lane Shackleton, Spencer Swan, Ilia Tregubov, Oji Udezue and the Tonal team. It truly takes a village to raise a doc!
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