Product Practice Newsletter

🛠️ How does your Traffic Light Strategy look?

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

How does your Traffic Light Strategy look?




Apr 19, 2024


4 min & 37 sec

​Dear Reader,​

Here’s the good news: Your Product Strategy doesn’t have to be 100% proven and watertight based on evidence before you can start sharing and working on it. Instead of trying to hide the assumptions present in your strategy, embrace them by using what I like to call the “Traffic Light Strategy.”

This ties in with the idea that your Strategy consists of individual but coherent components that fill universal strategy patterns with life. Once articulated, you can color-code the individual components according to their degree of “unprovenness.”

Green - Let’s go.

Your green strategy components are rock-solid foundations for decision-making. This applies to things you can fully control (like the definition of your Vision) or components that are really well-proven, like the choice of user segments based on the strong qualitative and quantitative signal you received.

Yellow - Just enough Conviction.

Don’t hold back on making decisions based on these components, but be clear about how proven these are. Maybe you have a hunch about the buyer segment you need to serve to reach your target user segment, but not more. Or your strategy metrics sort of tie in with where you want to go, but they lack specificity. Derisking these components shouldn’t be your first priority, but be aware of their somewhat shaky substance.

Red - Beware the Assumption.

Whether due to a lack of data or the high degree of HiPPO decisions, Some components making up your Product Strategy are just wild guesses. These can either be the assumed reasons why customers will pick you over an alternative (no, a nice UI isn’t a strong moat) or how you will reach users to deliver your value proposition. Making these components explicit has two advantages: First, you get your next Discovery priorities “for free.” Second, you avoid working on your strategy for too long in the ivory tower by being upfront about what has to be clarified further by doing the work instead of thinking about doing the work.


  • Check your Strategy Components. Be explicit about what is a proven fact vs. the wild guesses that have landed in your Strategy articulations.
  • Adjust your Discovery Priorities. Are your Discovery efforts focused on derisking the red (and maybe yellow) components?
  • Watch the Traffic Lights Change. How does the color change over the weeks and months of executing your Strategy?

Did you enjoy this one or have feedback? Do reply. It's motivating. I'm not a robot; I read and respond to every subscriber email I get (just ask around). If this newsletter isn't for you anymore, you can unsubscribe here.

Thank you for Practicing Product,


How to Dive Deeper into Product Strategy

Learn how I helped companies like Chrono24 and hone their Product Strategy practices. I closely work with product organizations through workshops and coaching to introduce and adapt Product Strategy.

Content I found Practical This Week

Your strategy (probably) sucks

And even if they have an amazing strategy, too many companies lack clarity because they are terrible at communicating and disseminating that strategy to their teams. Don’t believe me? Ask a handful of your employees to articulate your strategy - in most companies you’ll get a different answer from every single person, if you get one at all.

Writing a product strategy doc

Remember: the product strategy is first for you to create clarity on how all the pieces come together, so that you’re not a vicitim of ad-hocism. It helps to go back and refresh why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s also a living document for any stakeholder that might question your tactical choices in the future. You can always point out how they are aligned with the product strategy. Also, the document itself shouldn’t become an obstacle. If people are obsessing about the “wording” of the doc and you find you’re having to massage the text to cater for every stakeholder’s preferences MORE than everyone internalizing and aligning on the product choices you’re taking, that’s a red flag.

Strategic Thinking for Product Managers

I remember the first time I got that feedback. I was a PM in Microsoft’s gaming group. I had mixed feelings walking out of my boss’s office. I was both excited and anxious. It felt as if the door to the next chapter in my career was opening, but I really had no idea what it meant to be more strategic and how I was going to get there. I had in my mind that strategy was some big, amorphous topic that requires years of experience, lots of frameworks, and a rare, natural gift. Over time, I came to a very different understanding of strategy. The people who are strong strategic thinkers aren't necessarily pulling from some encyclopedic playbook. They haven't memorized Sun Tzu’s The Art of War or spent years at McKinsey.

What did you think of this week's newsletter?







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.

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