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Product Practice Newsletter

🛠️ What Should Strategy, OKRs, and Discovery Allow You To Do?

Published 20 days ago • 4 min read

What Should Strategy, OKRs, and Discovery Allow You To Do?

READ ON

HERBIG.CO

PUBLISHED

May 24, 2024

READING TIME

3 min & 54 sec

​Dear Reader,​

It’s tempting to focus the process of practicing Strategy, OKRs, and Discovery on technical correctness. Does the Objective not have a number? Cool! Do you interview one customer per week? Great - Let’s move on.

But that’s a pattern of Alibi Progress: prioritizing technical correctness over everyday value. Whenever these ways of working feel like a tick box exercise –– either for management or from a thought leader's definition of “how to do them right” –– your chances of experiencing the real value go down.

“I have to write the Product Strategy exactly as stated in the most popular template.” - No, you don’t.

“My OKRs have to only be about Outcomes, or I’m not allowed to use them.” - No, they don’t.

“I have to interview customers every week directly, or else I’m not doing Discovery and my products will fail.” - No, you don’t.

Every choice you make about HOW you work should be in service of helping you and your team experience the core value of a practice.

The core value of Product Strategy is enabling a team to confidently say yes or no to opportunities that come their way over the next 6 - 18 months.

The core value Product OKRs provide is helping teams measure their progress toward strategic priorities by responding to their everyday decisions.

The core value of Product Discovery is to reduce uncertainty regarding problems worth solving and solutions worth building through reliable evidence.

If I were an “Anti Product Doctor,” here’s what I would prescribe to any product team to keep them busy with alibi progress: Try to talk to more users to unlock “the one insight” that will make you believe that a problem is worth solving. Rewrite your lagging OKRs after reading another thought leaders' book. Or translate your ambiguous product strategy into another canvas, hoping it will make it more tangible

A more (seemingly) counterintuitive way of moving from being stuck to making real progress is to stop digging deeper into the area you're stuck in and look around you to spot opportunities to drag yourself out of your current rut.

Focus on connecting the dots you have and on improving the practices that exist, rather than drawing new ones and having to seek connections over again and again.

HOW TO PUT THIS THEORY INTO PRACTICE

  • Define what success looks like. What measurable changes in how teams work do you want to see from any of your specific practices?
  • Pick your Strategies. What frameworks, templates, or routines have the highest chance of creating this change?
  • Map your decisions back to your Success. Whenever new ways of working are discussed, question their ability to contribute to your success criteria.

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,

Tim

Content I found Practical This Week

Product managers shouldn't focus on problems when creating new products.

The notion of successful products solving problems suffers from 'hindsight bias.' If we explore the case of Instagram, we tend to say, 'Oh, it's only natural that people are so bored these days that they would like to connect with others and get entertained through Instagram.' However, it's supremely challenging to arrive at Instagram as a product solution in a forward-looking way. If the customer research calls out the problem as 'boredom', there are many ways to solve it, and you should be fortunate to land on Instagram as a solution. So right problem definition doesn't necessarily mean you can land on the right solution through the product. While you may argue that we can land on solutions through experimentation, the solutions' scope may be incredibly broad.

Where Feature Factories can be helpful

PM embraces agency to change their company culture from rewarding outputs to rewarding outcomes. They start saying no to feature requests and attempt to re-focus projects on problems to make space for product discovery. Sales leaders perceive the PM to slow down velocity instead of accelerate it. The PM who "won't play ball" depletes their social capital within the company and loses the ability to influence leaders, killing any chance of the PM advancing a new outcome-focused product initiative. When performance reviews come around, the PM is grilled for being neither collaborative nor impactful.

Who Is Product Operating Model For?

When I compare companies that take a holistic view of product where everything is powered by technology in order to serve customers, with those legacy companies that draw artificial lines around where they think they should apply technology, it’s easy to see the seeds of disruption. Can you separate the physical and digital? Of course. And sometimes there are domain-specific reasons to keep specialized people focused on non-digital aspects. But I am seeing a growing stream of new companies, in nearly every industry, that are applying the product model to disrupt their legacy competitors. In fact, I find it much more difficult to imagine a company that would not benefit from enabling technology across their offering. If you want a simple heuristic, if you have a set of engineers working to build technology that helps to power your business, then I would argue that you would benefit from the product model.

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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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Product Practice Newsletter

Turn Product Theory into Pragmatic Application by Tim Herbig

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

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