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Creating a Product Strategy for the First Time

Updated: Jun 2

child general staring at a blank strategy

Recently, I started coaching someone tasked with creating a product strategy for re-implementation of a product introduced to the portfolio via an acquisition. This is no small feat, and it brought several key points to mind that are worth sharing.


What is Strategy Anyway?

One of the first hurdles we faced was defining what her leadership meant by "strategy." Many organizations lack a clear definition of strategy, and this can lead to confusion and misaligned efforts. Does the strategy need to be a formal document? What problems should it solve? What questions should it answer?


In her case, the leadership primarily wanted to understand the investment required to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). So, the first task was to clarify these expectations with leadership.


The Re-Implementation Dilemma

Re-implementing a product can be tricky. You end up with two offerings that do similar things, but the new one is usually lacking in features initially—after all, Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day. The strategy must address the messaging challenge this presents, both internally and externally.


To tackle this, the strategy needs to align closely with the organization’s overall strategy. Without this alignment, the product strategy can quickly become disjointed and fail to support the broader goals of the company.


Aligning Product and Organizational Strategy

Understanding the organization’s strategy is crucial. The product strategy must mirror the company’s goals and objectives. This alignment ensures that the new product development efforts are not just in a vacuum but are contributing to the larger vision and success metrics of the organization. I strongly recommend making the mapping of org to product strategy explicit. This can be done easily by creating a table with org objectives in one column and the corresponding product objectives in another.


Steps to Crafting a Strategy

Here's what I asked her to do:


  1. Clarify with Leadership: Understand what they mean by strategy. Is it a document? What problems does it solve? What questions does it answer? This clarification is vital to ensure everyone is on the same page.

  2. Seek Examples: Ask for the best articulation of the company strategy. This could be a previous product strategy, a business plan, or any other strategic document that outlines how leadership sees strategy. Understanding the metrics leadership values and the objectives they aim to achieve is essential.

  3. Build a Small Team: Assemble a team with experience in the product and the organization. This team will help define the MVP. It’s crucial to identify non-negotiable capabilities and ensure these are included from the start.

  4. Market Segmentation Exercise: Within this team, conduct an exercise to identify specific market segments. This will guide priorities through the launch and into future versions. Knowing your target audience and their needs helps tailor the product effectively.

  5. Identify the top three metrics for measuring the success of the MVP and align them with leadership. Once we know the metrics, we can create objectives and draft a strategy. It will be incomplete but an important first step.


Conclusion

Creating a product strategy, especially for a re-implementation, is challenging but manageable with clear communication and alignment with broader organizational goals. By clarifying expectations, understanding the organizational strategy, and assembling a knowledgeable team, you can craft a strategy that not only addresses immediate needs but also sets a foundation for future growth and success.


Remember, a well-defined strategy isn't just about the product—it's about ensuring the product aligns with the company’s vision and goals, making it a cohesive part of the broader business strategy.


I'll keep you updated as this story progresses.


At Coach PMs, we offer customized professional development programs for individuals and organizations. We've help product professionals at all levels of experience and organizations of all sizes improve their strategic impact. Curious how we can help you? Schedule a free consultation.



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