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“Having no company strategy is one of the biggest issues facing product managers, according to a recent survey of over 600 product people. After all, how can you set a reasonable direction for your product when you don’t know where your company is headed?” Liam Smith was in that situation and found a way to deal with it. In this post, he shares the six steps he used to identify a product strategy without the guidance of an overall business strategy. (via @MindtheProduct)
It’s common for senior executives and product managers to fail to know the difference between business strategy and product strategy. Marty Cagan explains the difference this way: “The business strategy and business portfolio planning provide a budget and a set of business metrics. The product organization then lives within that budget to pursue as aggressively as possible the best ways to hit those business metrics.” (via @cagan)
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. You spend your time “tackling data analysis, presentations, customer visits, team meetings and whatever else it takes to make the next release or meet numbers.” That said, Bob Caporale points out in this episode of This is Product Management that you should still take time out of your schedule to develop a product strategy based on customer insights. He also points out that once you create a strategy it should “adapt to evolving market dynamics and customer needs.” (via @tipmpodcast)
“If you’re responsible for developing a product strategy, you need a plan. Not a rigid formula for the product itself. That would probably just yield a boring, uninspiring product. But you should have some sort of defined approach to developing a winning product strategy.” Andre Theus describes the five steps he uses to build a winning product strategy and “clear a path for inspiration to strike.” (via @atheus)
When you want to create a successful product, you need to pay attention to the details such as delivering the right user interaction and visual design and providing the right functionality. With all of this focus on the details, it’s easy for you to lose sight of the big picture. Roman Pichler explains how an effective product strategy “helps you manage your product proactively and it prevents you from getting lost in the details.” (via @romanpichler)
If there’s one thing that will ultimately define Bezo’s legacy, it will be his obsession with the long-term. From the 10,000 year clock he built underground to how he maintains the steady growth of Amazon while sacrificing short-term profits, each initiative is designed to have a huge impact far in the future. For the Product Manager, this means being extremely customer-centric as opposed to focusing too much on what your competitors are doing.
Jason Fried believes that “sustainable, long-term growth compounds in all sorts of positive ways“. He does not direct his product team to weigh on a long-term vision. Instead, he asserts, by creating great products the future will take care of itself.
It’s probably fair to say that many of us will not see a distinction between these three activities. Cliff Gilley uses a nice space travel-themed analogy to explain how a vision should come from the top and be something that everyone rallies around. A strategy is a collection of techniques to get you there. And finally, roadmaps are high-level steps that are going to be followed in order to deliver each of these techniques.
The number one tool that Jane Portman underlines for a successful product strategy is to be “focused, purposeful and adamant“. Doing so requires a significant amount of work that Jane has outlined, including finding ideal users, figuring out their big goal and understanding their common tasks.
After achieving a product-market fit and building a substantial user base you will be faced with a new problem — that of users using your product in unexpected ways and expecting you to support them. Des Traynor shares how you can maintain a focus on building a holistic product rather than on a set of tools trying to appease too many edge cases.