PRODUCTHEAD: How to align vision, strategy and action

PRODUCTHEAD: How to align vision, strategy and action

PRODUCTHEAD is a regular newsletter of product management goodness,
curated by Jock Busuttil.

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Every decision is a trade-off — deciding what not to do is just as important as deciding what to do

A good product vision captures customer, user, value proposition and links to organisational objectives

Interrogate your goals: “For this to happen, what must be true?”, then mark which are facts or assumptions

Avoid jumping on the first idea — check what problem we think it solves, then ask, “How else could we do this?”

every PRODUCTHEAD edition is online for you to refer back to


You’ve probably heard of Martin Eriksson. Co-founder of Mind The Product, author, investor — or to you maybe he’s simply the guy who clearly explained for the first time with a neat Venn diagram what being a product manager actually meant.

In his current investor role, Martin’s been looking at the product strategies of many companies and how they translate into the day-to-day activities undertaken by the teams. Some of the challenges he’s been seeing may be familiar to you:

Clear vision and strategy, but poor execution of that strategy

Great at executing, but unclear vision or strategy

Autonomous, empowered delivery teams, but which are working on stuff that doesn’t align with the broader strategy

Teams overwhelmed by a myriad of decisions — what should they choose to do and why?

A top-down, command-and-control approach isn’t going to solve these problems. The leadership team can’t keep up with the detail, complexity and pace needed to operate as a successful tech company. They need to delegate the work to their product teams.

The product teams are better equipped to cope with smaller chunks of that detail and complexity. They can take their own decisions on the next best thing to do, all while continuing to work at pace.

But delegation can also result in divergence: if product teams forget about the bigger picture (= the overall strategy and goals) they can end up pursuing opportunities that are worthwhile, but not necessarily helping the organisation to progress towards its broader goals.

What’s missing is alignment: cohesion of intent and action between the leadership team that defines the overall plan, and the individual product teams that are progressing that plan.

Resolving these disconnects is hard work and will take time. It involves getting people to reform their working habits, which itself needs them to understand why change is necessary in the first place.

But before getting to the hard work of change, you have to show where the disconnects lie in the first place. Nobody’s going to put effort into changing if they don’t believe there’s a reason for doing so.

This is where the tools and frameworks I’m sharing with you this week will help. They don’t necessarily resolve that lack of alignment between strategy and execution, but they do help you to identify and illustrate more easily where things are going wrong. And that’s a good starting point for a conversation about how to make things better.

Speak to you soon,


what to think about this week

The Decision Stack

In my work advising startups and corporates on how to succeed I come across too many businesses that don’t connect the dots from vision to execution. Some have great visions but no execution, some great execution but no vision. Too often the missing piece is strategy – not just a business school exercise but the connective tissue between vision and execution.

Connect vision through to every daily decision

[Martin Eriksson]

What is a product vision?

It’s the cornerstone of your product strategy. It informs your roadmap, which informs your daily decisions as a product team. But it’s something we don’t always get right – the biggest mistake we see product managers make when defining their product vision, is that it becomes so lofty and intangible that it’s ultimately meaningless.

Clear, specific and not open to interpretation

[Janna Bastow / ProdPad]

Dragon Mapping

I have a  confession to make: on occasion, I’ve had issues getting people to agree on how to work together. This usually boils down to a lack of genuine understanding between people who have different perceptions of the issues at hand. It gets further complicated by varying motivations and they way that they prioritise the issues.

Engage people quickly and get to work

[Randy Silver / Out of Owls]

Engaging stakeholders with opportunity solution trees: 3 tactics to try

“I use opportunity solution trees to align, communicate, and collaborate on product discovery. The link to recognizable company goals—and the fact that it looks nothing like a Gantt chart—facilitates a healthier discussion about choices the teams are making with finite resources.”

Hope Gurion, product management consultant

Externalise your thinking so that you can examine it

[Teresa Torres & Hope Gurion / Product Talk]

recent posts

Always have a plan B

Have you ever wondered why product managers say “it depends” quite so often?

Always seeking the best possible compromise

[I Manage Products]

What games taught me about customer onboarding

Video games aren’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but some of the most successful games and products share a common attribute: they help the user become more skilled throughout their journey.

Onboarding is really a continual process

[I Manage Products]

Should I take a product manager job in a sales-led company?

Hi Jock,

I’m currently applying for loads of product manager jobs. I’ve received an offer from a sales-led company where the Product team reports in to Sales. Should I take the job?

Demonstrate good practice AND deliver good product

[I Manage Products]

can we help you?

Product People is a product management services company. We can help you through consultancy, training and coaching. Just contact us if you need our help!

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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 every nickel and dime.

Read more from Jock

The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

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

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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