PRODUCTHEAD: 5 product strategy tips
PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.
how i made my products
The vision describes the future we are trying to create
The strategy describes how we’ll make the vision a reality
There are only 4 strategies after finding product-market fit
Tesla subsidised more affordable car models with the revenue from their initial luxury roadster
Storytelling helps to convince stakeholders to believe in your vision
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I’ve been chatting with a few people recently about product strategy. It’s all to easy to get lost in the woods and neglect longer-term thinking, particularly if there’s a lot going on to distract you in the here and now.
Here are a few of my quick tips to help you tackle your product strategy:
1) Frame everything in terms of tangible human outcomes, i.e. what becomes possible / easier / cheaper / quicker for people as a result of what your company and products do for them. Note that while your primary focus should be on the needs of your external users, sometimes it can be that you’re delivering something which benefits your internal users (e.g. customer support, your own delivery team etc.).
2) Everything ultimately should be aligned to your product vision. Your vision is your guiding star, a far-off, hard to achieve, and motivating goal for your product. If you worked in autonomous vehicles, this might be “nobody will ever be killed or injured by our vehicles”.
3) While the guiding star – your destination – doesn’t change (until you get there), the route you take to get there (the big steps, or strategy) will by necessity change as you learn more and encounter obstacles you need to circumvent.
4) Things further off in the future will be less certain, more likely to change as you learn new things, and so it’s less worthwhile spending too much time detailing these out. Focus instead on detailing more imminent and certain things. This applies at all levels of detail, whether strategy, roadmap, quarterly objectives or indeed sprint to sprint.
5) Uncertainty = risk. Uncertainty comes from not knowing for sure (with supporting evidence). Assumptions, ‘market experience’ and answers from within the business are at best guesses until validated through user research.
The only way to reduce uncertainty is to conduct user/market research. You will have some questions you know you need to ask. In the conversations you then have, you’ll always learn something unexpected. This in turn may prompt you to ask new questions you wouldn’t have thought to ask.
This week I’ve pulled together a selection of good content to keep you thinking about product strategy.
Speak to you soon,
what to think about this week
The product vision describes the future we are trying to create. It’s primary purpose is to communicate this vision and inspire the teams (and investors and partners) to want to help make this vision a reality.
Product strategy is the answer to the question, “how do we make the product vision a reality, while meeting the needs of the company as we go?”
[MARTY CAGAN / SVPG]
A lot of people believe that all their product problems will be solved by implementing the latest software development process fad. But the real problem is that there are different kinds of product work, each with their own processes, measures of success, and strategies.
[FAREED MOSAVAT & CASEY WINTERS / REFORGE]
Whether you’re new to product management or have been a product manager for years, a coaching session can help you to step up your career.
We’ve coached people wanting to get into product management, product people with nobody in their organisation to manage them, and experienced product managers preparing to apply for a promotion.
We can help you prepare for your product manager interview, including mock interviews.
“Jock has been instrumental in my personal growth as a product leader but also as a person.”
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Napo
A proportion of the fees from every coaching session is donated to charity. Just reply to this email if you’re interested in finding out more.
Way back in 2006, Elon Musk laid out his strategy for Tesla:
“My day job is running a space transportation company called SpaceX, but on the side I am the chairman of Tesla Motors and help formulate the business and product strategy with Martin and the rest of the team. I have also been Tesla Motor’s primary funding source from when the company was just three people and a business plan.”
[ELON MUSK / TESLA]
Mel McVeigh is the product director at Condé Nast, one of the largest publishers in the world, responsible for brands such as Vogue, GQ, and The New Yorker. In this video of her ProductTank London talk, Mel takes us through how to create a global product strategy.
[MEL MCVEIGH / MIND THE PRODUCT]
Imagine you’ve just been told that you’ll be a member of the team responsible for the first manned mission to Mars.
Now imagine someone asks you how much the mission’s going to cost. The whole thing. There and back. By close of business on Thursday.
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
Often the biggest barrier to your product’s widespread adoption is going to be whether it reaches product-market fit early on. Even if you do, you’re wrong if you think you never need to worry about product-market fit again.
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
I’m 4 weeks into a new job, having moved states for it, and I’ve recently become a parent for the first time. Currently, I am feeling overwhelmed.
[I MANAGE PRODUCTS]
upcoming talks and events
One of the few silver linings of the recent year is that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to get a product expert to speak at your organisation by video call.
I’ve spoken at various product management and technology conferences around the world. I share ideas primarily on the topic of product management, and this tends to overlap with agile and ethical product development, digital transformation, and fostering healthy product cultures and communities.
“Day 2 saw an impressive presentation by Jock Busuttil on user testing. He asked the attendees to lend each other a smartphone and take a picture. What a turmoil that caused ;-) ”
Marketing & Business Development Director, BlueGlass Interactive
If you’d like to book me to speak at your event, please get in touch.
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Helping people build better products, more successfully, since 2012.
PRODUCTHEAD is a newsletter for product people of all varieties, and is lovingly crafted from a broken main computer from the Hubble space telescope.
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Read more from Jock
The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management
by Jock Busuttil
“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”— Lyndsay Denton