As product people, we know just how important product strategy is. We also know what happens when we don’t have one in place, or if we do and it’s not quite working. Execution disconnects from vision, and alignment and focus are thrown out.
In this Prioritised event exclusively for members, Managing Director of Mind the Product, Emily Tate, moderated a panel discussion of product experts to discuss building strategy in product.
The expert panel included:
- Emily Patterson, Director of Product, Information Security
- Daniel Elizalde, Product Executive and Advisor to Climate Tech Product Teams
- Nacho Bassino, Director of Product at Xing
- Krish Desai, Product Manager at Deloitte Digital
Watch the entire session in full or read on for a few of our panellists’ four key points:
What strategy looks like
The discussion opened up with the panel explaining what an effective product strategy looks like. Nacho opened by describing how he is an advocate of having one sole overarching strategy. It’s important to communicate what you are focusing on and paint a picture of what you are visualising, Nacho explained. “Have this picture which encapsulates what your product is aiming to achieve with a few lines that explain the process to make it more actionable,” he said. On the other side of strategy is the detailed document displaying how you aim to reach this goal. These two compartments to a strategy are essential to provide visibility and effective collaboration. Daniel added that a product strategy is an important tool for communication and making decisions for product teams. Daniel explained that we should be able to use product strategy to ensure that everything we do aligns with the overarching picture.
Strategy can change over 12 months, Krish added. “Customers change, markets evolve, and it’s the role of organisations and product leaders to track these changes and adapt accordingly to fortify a product strategy,” he says. When starting with a new product strategy, it’s often for the goalposts to change every three months. Once a product is established, there should be more longevity in it due to momentum and growth. Find out where you are in the product lifecycle and move at that speed.
Clarity from the C-suite
Asked where to build product strategy, Daniel said that the role of the product leader is to get buy-in for a product strategy. For this to happen, the overarching strategy must be set by executive-level management. Once they set where the business wants to go, the product leader can then advise on the best solutions that suit this goal, he says. Doing this provides clarity and direction.
Emily reiterated how important it is to receive feedback from the board—this is often where senior product managers fail, she said. “Have those constructive conversations, get input, and create something that will hold together to create a concrete strategy,” Emily said. “A product strategy can be an iterative process, you have that power,”
Understand what role you play and what challenges you are going to solve that will affect the overall goal, Daniel said. Not every product line is going to directly impact the key parts of a strategy, so it’s important to have clarity on each product step and align in all directions to solidify this.
Creating and influencing strategy from the ground up
Emily said to bring all product managers along on the journey with product strategy for both growth and transparency. “When you’re talking about strategy, keep everyone who you’re working with up to speed with everything,” she said. Doing so could blossom into creative and constructive conversations later down the road.
Kris adds that the execution of the product strategy is more of a focus for senior product managers. Once you find ways to focus on the execution, you can then assist and leverage it instead of having a full grasp of the day-to-day updates and having an influence over the input of the strategy itself. For senior product managers looking to be more ambitious and have more of an influence over the overarching goal, Kris said to talk to the product leaders who are having the most impact. You can then use these conversations to suggest new ideas.
“The odds that you have a full overview of the strategy are quite slim, however, the chances of having high quality and relevant information that can contribute to it are high,” Kris said. Share that perspective with your product leaders so they have everything they need to put forward your ideas. “As a product leader, you have several constraints and options to consider which can hamper your vision—so as a mid-level or junior product manager, don’t be afraid to take a pass at it yourself and offer another perspective”, Emily Tate adds. The more information and help you can give in crafting that strategy can help clarify things for leadership teams.
Executing your pricing strategy
As a product leader, set your budgets early, Daniel and Emily stressed, therefore, product teams must communicate challenges and blockers preventing them from executing product strategy early enough to fit into pricing strategies. “Don’t plan your product strategy for the next fiscal year in December,” Emily said. It becomes challenging to request additional resources once your budget is set. So if you seek feedback or support from product teams, do it early and consistently. “The earlier you can raise anything budgetarily, the better so that teams have time to work through it before deadlines become critical,” she said.
What to read next
For more insights browse our library of content on Product Strategy or access further resources below from members of our panel:
- The B2B Innovator’s Map – How to get from idea to your first ten customers – free chapter!
- Managing Internal Tools – Emily Patterson on The Product Experience
- Anatomy of a real product strategy by Nacho Bassino
- That’s Not Strategy! By Krish Desai