Here’s the easiest way to marry company strategy and product strategy.
The first order of business is to make a clear distinction between your company’s financial goals and strategic goals. They’re often conflated.
Financial goals are just that. While meeting those goals is critical to your organization’s success, financial goals themselves aren’t the same as strategic goals.
Think of strategic goals as the top priorities your company must execute in order to reach its financial goals. For example…
– Improve the customer experience.
– Grow into adjacent markets with existing products.
– Retain our best employees.
Note that each of these examples can be measured, an important part of establishing strategic goals.
The Downside of Multiple Product Strategies
Here’s the first thing you SHOULD NOT DO. Don’t dispatch each product team to come up with a strategy that supports your company’s goals. There’s a significant downside to that approach.
First of all, you run the risk of spreading your company and its resources too thin by taking your products collectively in too many directions. Imagine the ripple effect on sales and marketing trying to execute a strategy for each product. Impossible!
The end result is you’re not making a significant impact in any one market segment or product category.
Second, you leave the strategy for every product wide open to endless second-guessing, arm-chair quarterbacking and microscopic degrees of justification.
And last but not least, it’s more work and stress for everyone that in most cases, just isn’t necessary for product management to do its job.
The Benefit of a Single Portfolio Strategy
Here’s the first thing you SHOULD DO. Forget about your products for a quick minute. Do a 180 degree about-face, look at your target customers (external and internal) and determine what parts of the business they’re investing in most and why, especially the why part.
Now product managers, huddle up and bring all your products back into the fold. Look at your portfolio holistically and treat each product as a lever with unique powers.
Determine how far you need to pull each lever (the investment level in each product) to quantifiably impact the goals of your target customers. Then determine the impact of each on your company’s strategic goals and prioritize accordingly.
What you have is a portfolio strategy that aligns all product priorities collectively and holistically to the things that are most valuable to the market and to your own organization. Here’s why this is so important for every product team.
It’s the #1 thing that keeps the priorities for each product from changing on a whim. It’s because the strategic value of them together (for the market and your own company) is far greater than the next great idea, opportunity or shiny object.
There’s only one thing that constitutes a change to your portfolio strategy, and that’s a sudden and unexpected shift in the market like a pandemic or financial crisis. If that happens, all bets are off and it’s time to revise your portfolio strategy and align it to the dynamics of the shifted market.
Sure, you can expect a few detours as you’re orchestrating product priorities through development for something like a major bug or quality issue, but once those are resolved, it’s time to get back to the priorities from the portfolio strategy.
Raising The Trust and Credibility Factor With Stakeholders
This is one area where a lot of product managers struggle to make significant strides. Here’s how a portfolio strategy is going to help your cause and it comes in the form of how you articulate your product priorities and roadmaps.
Imagine that every product manager headlines his or her priorities by first articulating the portfolio strategy with strong emphasis on measurable customer outcomes and why they’re so critical/valuable to the market.
The portfolio headlines are then followed by the priorities for each product that in essence, explain each product’s contribution to the overall company and portfolio strategy. Dots connected!
This approach earns greater trust and credibility among stakeholders because it demonstrates your ability to think and plan strategically with a clear path to execution.
If you want to simplify your product strategy process, contact us about a personalized training workshop and we’ll do it together in the classroom for your products and your organization.
Subscribe to The Product Vibe Monthly to have our best-practice publications sent directly to your inbox.
by John Mansour on December 5, 2023.