🛠️ PP #297: Treat your Product Strategy like a Product


Treat your Product Strategy
like a Product

READ ON

HERBIG.CO

PUBLISHED

Oct 13, 2023

READING TIME

4 min & 38 sec

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​Dear Reader,

It’s easy to lose track of the actual purpose of strategy work, especially between the noise of Product Strategy frameworks and how a “good” strategy should look according to Twitter or LinkedIn. Product Teams should work forward from the value for the recipient, not backward from the defaults of others.

Instead of treating practices like Product Strategy as a tick-box exercise, treat it like a product: Understand for whom you’re trying to create what value and design your process and output accordingly, with early validation in mind.

Start with your Audience. Product Strategy should lead to work that produces “outward-facing” products, but it’s supposed to be consumed by internal audiences. Typically, that’s a) stakeholders and leadership, b) other departments, and c) the members of your product team.

What’s the job of your Strategy work? The Strategy aims to serve a different job for each of these audiences. For leadership it’s about being able to trust the direction and decisions of the team and horizontal and vertical coherence within the company. For your team, however, it’s about having clear, reliable, yet flexible decision-making guardrails for prioritization.

How to distribute Strategy? Again, this will depend on the audience. A one-pager or concise .ppt might best match their consumption patterns for leadership. Translating your choices into an agreed canvas-like structure between departments helps the information flow. And within your team, you need to find a shape that’s easy to comprehend, with optional deep dives to back up your choices and translate them into goals to measure your progress.

How to derisk Strategy Creation? Test the assumptions about your strategy as soon as you realize they are only assumptions. One assumption might be the coherence with the company's direction. This might require periodic strategy check-ins with leadership. Another assumption could be the coherence and comprehensibility of your efforts. Sharing synthesized strategy statements and conclusions with your team on an ongoing basis helps to mitigate the “big bang confusion” or “grand reveal rejection.”

There are more questions to consider when creating your Product Strategy to succeed in your target market. However, acknowledging these overlaps can help you go from filling out a template to creating a valuable artifact.

HOW TO PUT THIS THEORY INTO PRACTICE

  • Ask the recipients of your Product Strategy what they need to get out of this artifact. What should “it” help them do (differently)? Design your process accordingly.
  • When did you share your current thinking outside your “usual” collaborators? Seek internal exposure to test your assumptions of comprehensibility and value.
  • Iterate your strategy structure and format based on internal usefulness, not someone else’s template instructions.

That's (almost) all, Reader. If you enjoyed today's issue, please do reply (it helps with deliverability). If you didn't, you can unsubscribe here.

Thank you for Practicing Product,

Tim

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Content I found Practical This Week

Who Should Do Strategy?

The tricky thing is that strategy is an integrative discipline. It is inherently horizontal not vertical. It is just like general management in this respect. The core task of general management is to integrate across the functions to make sound decisions. And so is the core task of strategy. To be fair, it is not as though the rest of the functions aren’t integrative at all. For example, finance needs to take an integrative view across the company. But it doesn’t have the responsibility for figuring out what all the other functions should do.

10 Product Strategy Mistakes to Avoid

If you find yourself struggling to come up with an effective strategy for an entire product, then this may be an indication that the product has grown too big and has become too heterogeneous. Instead of introducing feature-based strategies, consider unbundling one or more capabilities and creating product variants.

What makes a strategy great

You can debate the form a strategy should take, whether a four-sentence “master plan” or a few dozen bullets or a six-pager or an eighty-pager or a template like Salesforce’s V2MOM or a Notion template you found on the Internet or answering three questions from a Twitter pundit or some sort of “Canvas.” Regardless, its job is to communicate “how we will win.” There are a lot of documents titled “Strategy,” but very little great strategy. The formula for great strategy isn’t decided by the format of the output document.

Who is Tim Herbig?

As a Product Management Coach, I guide Product Teams to measure the progress of their evidence-informed decisions.

I identify and share the patterns among better practices to connect the dots of Product Strategy, Product OKRs, and Product Discovery.

Here are a few ways we can work together:

Product Practice Newsletter

1 tip & 3 resources per week to improve your Strategy, OKRs, and Discovery practices in less than 5 minutes.

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