May 12

Product Vision And Strategy

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If you were to rank the concepts that produce the most “Princess Bride moments” (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”), two concepts that would show up close to the top are product vision and product strategy.

It seems as though everyone agrees that you need to have a product vision and a product strategy. But when you ask what those concepts mean, the answers become a little less definitive and a bit more handwavy.

Ultimately, your product teams need to know where your product is heading. That’s your product vision. And you need to have some idea about how you’re going to get there, at least a starting point. That’s your product strategy.

If those descriptions seem a bit high-level, take a look at these resources that take a deeper dive into both concepts and how they work together.

Hopefully, after you’re done, the thought of not having a clear product vision and product strategy will be inconceivable.

How To Define A Product Vision (With Examples)

There’s an assumption that the “average” person has about 10 ideas in their life that could/would change the world. Very successful people have about 15–20 of these ideas.

How do you really know that an idea could become a life-changing billion-dollar product or service?

Christian Strunk, a product coach and consultant, doesn’t have the answer to that question. He does know that continuous product discovery and a clear product vision helped many successful companies to get there.

In this article, Christian explains how to define a product vision. He breaks it all down into simple segments from the definition to the creation process, underlined with real-world examples.

Read on, here.

8 Tips For Creating A Compelling Product Vision

Creating and managing a successful product requires a lot of time and energy. In order to be fully committed, you have to be convinced that what you are doing is right and have a clear vision of where to take your product.

Roman Pichler, product management trainer and author, shares eight tips to help you create an effective product vision that inspires your development team and your stakeholders.

Read on, here.

SVPG’s Views On Product Vision

Marty Cagan, product consultant and Founder of Silicon Valley Product Group, explains that the product vision is one of the most important and highest-leverage tools for tech-powered product companies, especially for those trying to do product at scale. He also notes that there are some widely held misconceptions about product vision.

In this pair of posts, Marty explains his view on product vision by addressing those misconceptions and answering some frequent questions that he’s received about product vision.

The general gist of these posts is that a product vision acts as a “north star” that every product team in an organization can use to understand how their work contributes to the larger whole.

Read on, here: Product vision versus mission | Product vision FAQ

Every Product Needs A North Star

The product north star is easily the most powerful and misunderstood product strategy framework in use today.

A north star metric is the key measure of success for the product team in a company. It defines the relationship between the customer problems that the product team is trying to solve and the revenue that the business aims to generate by doing so.

Sandhya Hegde, Director of Product at Amplitude Analytics, put together this deep dive on the north star metric. She intended it to serve as a guide to product leaders and product managers on why the north star matters, how to define it, and how to use it to drive your long-term product strategy and growth.

Read on, here.

How To Define Your Product Strategy

Gib Biddle, former VP/CPO at Netflix/Chegg, had some experiences in his career as a product leader that reinforced the value of strategic thinking for him.

Reflecting on those experiences led Gib to shift his focus from satisfying customers to delighting them. He learned about the balancing act of delight and margin, and what makes products hard to copy.

He also learned to articulate a product strategy as a set of hypotheses for how to delight customers in hard-to-copy, margin-enhancing ways.

He found that crisp execution and high-cadence experimentation are critical, but having a clear product strategy supercharges your efforts. Strategic thinking enables you to think ahead, to effectively “skip quarters,” and to build enduring value.

To help others pick up his approach to strategic thinking, Gib crafted a series of short essays that provide a step-by-step approach to defining your product strategy.

Read on, here.

8 Product Strategies That Will Inspire Your Roadmap

The journey of every great product starts with a strategy. As far as product management is concerned, it’s mostly about creating a winning product strategy, followed by flawless execution. By clearly defining goals and pinpointing where they need to end up, product managers lead their teams toward success.

That can be easier said than done. Depending on the industry, the region you’re in, and many other factors, coming up with a new strategy from scratch isn’t always easy. Fortunately, in most cases, you can iterate existing strategies because “they’ve always worked.”

If you’re a product manager looking for inspiration to ignite the product roadmap for your idea, keep reading. Josh Fecter, business strategy consultant and Founder of The Product Company, provides a quick refresher on the concept and purpose of product strategies, and shows examples of the most popular types of product strategies.

Read on, here.

Product Strategy Template: Focus Your Efforts With These 3 Steps

Building and executing a product strategy is difficult, to say the least. Forty-five percent of all products fail to launch on time, while 20% of that number fails to meet internal targets.

The key to overcoming those statistics is the expectations that your team places upon your product strategy itself. Ask yourself: “What are the intangible outcomes we’ll strive for by implementing this strategy?”

An effective product strategy template will keep you focused on the fundamentals and not bogged down in unnecessary particulars. It should prompt you to plot where your product will deliver value, how it will grow, and what it has to do to stand out from the pack.

If you’re looking for a ready-made template to download and get working on straight away, the folks at Amplitude put together a worksheet that you can use as a starting point. They also explain how to shape your product strategy template to give your team the mixture of discipline and freedom you need to build great products.

Read on, here.

Avoid The Strategy Templates Myth. Do This Instead.

Then again, not everyone is a believer in product strategy templates or reusing product strategy from other organizations.

Nacho Bassino, Director of Product at XING, states that in theory, using a template helps you know what sections to pay attention to, confirm how it should look, and avoid missing any significant part. It should also give you a solid argument to share with peers and stakeholders when they ask why you describe your strategy in this particular format.

Nacho then points out that in practice, he’s never seen a good strategy emerge from a template. He explains why this is the case and suggests what he thinks you should do instead.

Read on, here.

The Product Strategy Stack

The word “strategy” has been stretched to a point where it is almost devoid of meaning. Too often, the terms “vision,” “mission,” “strategy,” “goals,” and “roadmap” get conflated into a jumbled mess—leaving product leaders without the context that they need to focus their work on the difficult task of moving the company forward.

Sometimes, this lack of clarity is apparent. Product teams may know that they don’t have a clear-enough understanding of the strategy. More often, the lack of clarity manifests in hard-to-diagnose ways. For example, product teams may struggle to answer prioritization questions.

Difficulty in prioritizing is often a strategy issue, not an execution issue. It is impossible to make rigorous prioritization decisions when the guidance on how to do so is missing, unclear, or disconnected from what you are trying to do.

In order to address issues, you can’t think about “strategy” as some amorphous, all-encompassing concept. Instead, Zainab Gadiyali, Operator-in-Residence at Reforge, and Ravi Mehta, Reforge Partner, suggest the product strategy stack as a way of thinking about the relationship between mission, strategy, roadmap, and goals as a stack of distinct concepts.

Read on, here.

What Is Good Product Strategy?

Most companies fall into the trap of thinking about product strategy as a plan to build certain features and capabilities. We often say that our product strategies are things like:

  • “To create a platform that allows music producers to upload and share their music.”
  • “To create a backend system that will allow the sales team to manage their leads.”
  • “To create a front of the funnel website that markets to our target users and converts them.”

This isn’t a strategy; this is a plan. When you treat a product strategy like a plan, it will almost always fail. Plans do not account for uncertainty or change. They give you a false sense of security.

You need to switch from thinking about product strategy as something that is dictated from top to bottom to thinking about it as something that is uncovered as you learn what will help you achieve your objectives.

Melissa Perri, CEO and Founder of ProdUXLabs, explains that product strategy is a system of achievable goals and visions that work together to align your product team around desirable outcomes for both your business and your customers.

Product strategy emerges from experimentation toward a goal. Those KPIs, OKRs, and other metrics that you are setting for your teams are part of the product strategy. But, they cannot create a successful strategy on their own.

Read on, here.

 


GET THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR PRODUCT MANAGERSEnjoy this article?
Get much more by downloading this 18,000 word Ultimate Guide for Product Managers. Find the best newsletters, communities, books, and valuable articles on product discovery, strategy, careers and more!

 

 

 

Kent J McDonald

About the author

Kent J McDonald writes about and practices software product management. He has product development experience in a variety of industries including financial services, health insurance, nonprofit, and automotive. Kent practices his craft with a variety of product teams and provides just in time resources for product people at KBP.media and Product Collective. When not writing or product managing, Kent is his family’s #ubersherpa, listens to jazz and podcasts (but not necessarily podcasts about jazz), and collects national parks.


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