We often talk about product strategy. It's one of the key services we provide to our clients. Sad to say is that it's often unclear what exactly a product strategy is.
A product strategy provides an answer to the who, why, how and what-questions:
- Target Audience - Who needs our help?
- Problem - Why do they need our help?
- Solution - How are we going to help?
- Product - What do we build to provide this solution?
Next to providing an answer to these questions a good product strategy needs to contain core strategy elements: A clear diagnosis of a problem, a guide towards a solution and a set of coherent guiding principles or actions.
Why is a product strategy important?
Both the process and output of creating a strategy are important and serves valuable goals:
1. It will challenge your ideas
Ideas are often about a solution. We need an app, a tool a process. We jump to a solution space. This can cause your trouble down the road. Before working on a solution make sure to clearly identify and understand the problem.
Problem space versus Solution space
You may already have heard the story about the million dollar pen. NASA needed a pen for astronauts to use during Apollo missions. A pen in space needs to work in zero gravity. NASA jumped into a solution to create a zero gravity pen. In Russia they used a pencil
NASA started in the solution space, "We need a pen to work in zero gravity". Russia started from a problem space. "We need something to write in space". In that case, a pencil will do fine.
2. It will guide actions and tactical decisions
A good product strategy will make it easier to make decisions and guide your actions.
The who, why, how and what of the product should be crystal clear to everyone on the team, investors and others. As a team, you should solve any discussion based on the product strategy.
3. It will help you communicate clearly
A common understand of the product strategy improves communication, both internally and externally.
We help founders and product teams to define and clarify their product strategy.
Often we find that the maturity of teams and ideas differs. We always organise an intake conversation. We want to understand how much work to teams has already done. And we identify where they need help. This way we know in what areas, and how we can add value.
We start a product strategy track with a kickoff. Involving all people who's input we'll need during the different workshops.
Depending on what we learned during the intake. We organise one or more workshops to work on the different core elements. During these workshops we'll use several methods and tools.
During a closing meeting we present the product strategy and define the next steps. In most cases this takes to form of an MVP, depending on the assumptions and feasibility. This can be a real product MVP, a prototype or other types of MVP to test remaining assumptions.
The product canvas
A tool we like to use is the product brief. The product canvas summarises who, why, how and what. We use it in several steps during our strategy tracks. It is a good starting point to capture the current states of ideas. It is a great tool to summarise and communicate the product strategy.
Ready to start developing your product strategy? Download the product brief canvas.