If you are a great technology leader or product manager — you know a secret that others ignore. Managing relationships is essential to your job. As the CEO of your product, sometimes it might seem like your main job! Teams from sales to engineering all have a stake in your product. And they often need to know exactly what you are thinking to do their own jobs.
I have run product and strategy in six companies. And I can tell you that when I take the time to explain what I am seeing and how it is influencing decisions about the direction of the product, co-workers help the product get there. But when I keep those insights to myself, people start questioning where we are headed.
Pleasing everyone can seem impossible. Without clear direction, it’s no wonder why product owners get beaten down and cannot lead their products with conviction.
The great news? This doesn’t have to happen. The most successful products are built based on a clear strategy that everyone understands. How many times have you heard whispers from folks who question your work because they don’t understand the “why”? Consider your product strategy their answer.
Every great product strategy is comprised of three parts: Vision, Goals, and Initiatives:
Vision describes the market landscape, who the customers are, what they need, and how you plan to deliver a unique offering.
Goals are quantifiable and define what you want to achieve in the next quarter, year, or 18 months.
Initiatives are the high level efforts that will help you achieve your goals.
At Aha! we believe that all three are essential to building great products. Before you plan your next release, make sure your strategy is on the right track:
Your product vision should enhance the overall company strategy, your outlook for the product, and where both are headed. A good vision understands who the customers are, what they need, and your go-to-market plan. It captures the essence of what you aim to achieve, the opportunities you have, and the threats that you face.
To build and release a winning product, a strong product vision is essential. It is equally important to explain this vision to all teams and stakeholders. When everyone involved in a new product update or launch shares the same strategic vision, implementation runs more smoothly.
Your product goals must have measurable end results that can be achieved within fixed timeframes. They highlight what you hope to accomplish. Many goals are also stepping stones to faster business growth and explaining bolder goals. Goals should be relatively easy to track, so that you know how your team is performing against them.
Sample product goals include:
- Increase revenue by 30%
- Expand into five new countries
- Increase mobile adoption by 100%
- Reduce the number of support tickets by 10%
Initiatives let you specify key work that must be completed to achieve your product’s goals. Think of initiatives as high level projects that should be accomplished within a specified period of time — even if this is over a few months. Product initiatives should relate to your company’s core strategy. This helps senior leadership understand how your product will achieve the right goals for the customer and business.
- Performance improvements
- UI Improvements
- Better reporting
- Language localization
The best products start with a clear strategy that is customer and market driven. And the technology builders know how to make each unique stakeholder feel a sense of higher purpose.
Building brilliant products should not be excruciating. So, go set your strategy, build what matters, and be happy doing it.