In today’s world, where new technologies are constantly reshaping customer experiences, and startups can capture market share faster than ever before, it’s critical for product teams to be willing and able to quickly iterate on their product strategy.
emphasized this point:
“If you go out with an immovable plan, your plan is almost inevitably going to fail.”
If you spend too much time developing your strategy, it may be outdated before you get to market with the product. There are three factors that should influence your product strategy:
The product lifecycle
In the early stages of building a new product, your strategy will be focused on discovering the needs of your customers and finding product-market fit. Once you find product-market fit, your strategy will be focused on growing within your market and exploring adjacent markets. Eventually, your strategy will be focused on scaling your team and operations and reaching markets throughout the world in a profitable manner.
In “International Growth is Product Management,” Vinay Ramani, Head of Global Growth at Uber, emphasized the importance of adapting your product to the unique needs of customers as you scale to new markets across the world.
The most effective product leaders I’ve interviewed get feedback from their customers throughout the product lifecycle. They’re constantly working to understand their customers’ needs and test new product and feature concepts.
As product managers run surveys, interview users, and build and test prototypes, they learn what products and features will have the most significance on their customers and the business and adapt their strategy accordingly.
The company lifecycle
In “Continuous Transformation is Product Management,” Eric Ries, the author of The Lean Startup and The Startup Way, described how as companies grow, they often lose sight of the entrepreneurial practices that helped them to get to where they are. It’s critical for companies to maintain these entrepreneurial capabilities so that they can continue to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.
Eric has helped companies including General Electric to update their product strategy to be more focused on building new products. He advises companies to emphasize experimentation and data-driven decision making to discover how they can better serve current customers or reach new markets.
Getting started and leading execution
If you don’t have a strategy, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s most important to your customers and your company. Block off time on your calendar (which I’m sure is already pretty busy) to set and re-evaluate your product strategy. Your strategy will help your team focus on your business goals and your customers and set a roadmap for execution. But your strategy is worthless if your team doesn’t follow through on the execution.
To ensure execution, communicate your strategy to all relevant stakeholders in your organization. This includes sales and marketing teams, engineering teams, and c-suite. Remember to be willing to iterate on your strategy based on customer feedback and changing market conditions.