Strategic Gridlock? Discover the Tools You Need to Drive Product Decisions
Many CEOs will tell you that they’re the best-informed people when it comes to knowing what customers need — and that they’re in the best position to drive decisions on product priorities. What happens here is that these expectations and this type of behaviour become the primary contributor to product strategy gridlock.
Often people will become product managers by default rather than through decision. What the CEO needs to do is shift their focus toward building the product leadership team, empowering the product manager to think strategically and focus on features that map and complement a ‘high level’ strategic baseline they set for the product.
When there’s no solid product leadership team in place, it can lead to several challenges in the product delivery, from internal politics and lack of prioritization to miscommunication and inadequate discipline. When you have a confident product leadership team who can build and nurture the product team, drive product strategy and processes, grow cross-functional collaboration and accomplish successful goal alignment, then nothing can get in the way of product success.
But how do you get to this point? We run a virtual workshop to provide the actionable strategies, tools, processes and skills you need as a product leader to create innovations, adapt to market shifts and anticipate what comes next.
Driving Key Results
Whether you’re a founder or part of the product, engineering or leadership team, you need actionable strategies and impactful technique that drive results. Over the course of three years, we’ve trialled, errored, refined and repeated this workshop, and it has been a key component for both the success of Bain Public and the organizations we work with.
From determining your BHAG (Bold, Hair, Ambitious Goals) to assembling your value proposition, this workshop will walk you through the process of establishing your product mission, strategies and tactics to create your very own product roadmap. Visualizing a product’s ecosystem is of the utmost importance when it comes to aligning your product strategies and ensuring long-term growth and success.
What can you expect to learn in the workshop?
- Product leadership principles
- Product manager ROI
- Revisiting and assembling your company value proposition
- Establishing your product mission
- Defining the product strategies
- Defining product tactics
- Defining your parking lot
- Refining your 666 roadmap
If some of the above elements intrigue you, below we dive deeper into what it all means, from defining your BHAG to creating your very own 666 roadmap.
Using a Strategic Baseline to Attain Clarity and Goal Alignment
As a quick teaser of what you’ll learn in the workshop, we’ll demonstrate how we go about approaching our BHAG, UVP and product mission, strategies, tactics and metrics process — also known as a ‘high level’ strategic baseline.
The above approach is what helps you lay the foundations before hiring product managers. It’s what leads to better clarity so you can create a strategy and reach goal alignment.
BHAG: Also known as your ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal’, BHAG is your 10 to 30-year goal. A clear and compelling target, and your most daunting challenge. This is your chance to go big.
UVP: Also known as your ‘Unique Value Proposition’, a UVP is an aggregation or bundle of benefits that a company offers customers. This is what is unique about your company, product or service. What is the solution you’re offering to customers that they can make the most of? Can you summarise it into a powerful phrase
Product Mission: Once you’ve determined your BHAG and UVP, how do you create a roadmap? An effective way of thinking about your roadmap is over three timelines: the next six years, the next six months and the next six weeks (also known as your 666 roadmap). The first step to creating this roadmap is creating a product mission. This internal facing value aligning phrase makes your product stand for a big idea or a set of values, and expresses them consistently. A clear mission statement streamlines and simplifies internal processes and leads to better products. What is the product’s reason for being or the goal for its operations? Why is it unique? Does it get you out of bed in the morning? Is it why you go to work every day?
Product strategies: This is all about setting broad goals for your product and defending your company against current or future clones and competitors. Strategies can be targeted toward:
- Market expansion: This includes presenting your product to a wider market, this could be to a new demographic or geographical region. This helps to get ahead of your rivals and ensure your product is included in growing markets.
- Innovation: This includes making significant changes to your product to increase its value as well as to stay ahead of competitors (e.g. innovating in R&D).
- Cost-efficiencies: This includes enhancing the performance of your product, leading to cost savings and improved company processes (e.g. automation)
Product Tactics & Metrics: These are your planned actions for attaining a certain strategic goal, along with determining your short-term considerations about how to deploy resources to accomplish a strategy. It’s important to note that you can’t set a tactic without a corresponding metric to improve. Metrics are a reflection of your product mission. These are essential to validate your assumptions and evaluate where progress is being made and where it can improve in the future.
Once you’ve gathered this information, fit everything onto one page. This can then be shared throughout your organization (see below for an example from Shopify)
How do you use a ‘high level’ strategic baseline to manage expectations? With this document in hand, you can find opportunities to improve internal communications. Recognize that your up-front hypothesis requires a sounding board for adjustments, so this is your chance to meet with everyone individually. Why is this important? Reviews promote alignment among diverse groups within your organization, clarifies objectives and priorities, and helps focus efforts around them.
Consider feature requests holistically and always in the context of how they map and complement the "high level" strategic baseline. Tie them to the product mission and strategies, and allow for collaborative discussions to help prioritize.
Much like any successful head coach in professional sports, the product manager is the leader of a team. They help determine the product mission and establish a roadmap that will lead their team on a path to achieving goals, transforming visions from strategy to execution.
They're on the hook to deliver a ‘portion of growth’ and select the features (below in red) the company wants to move forward with in the short-term while holding others for the mid to long term (in grey).
More on the Bain Public Workshop
Are you curious to know more about our 3-hour virtual workshop and using a ‘high level’ strategic baseline to achieve clarity and goal alignment? No matter where you are in the world, we’ll make sure to start at a time that works best for you and your team. If you’re unsure whether you’re the best fit for this course, our workshops are designed and targeted to executives (i.e. Directors, VPs, C-level leaders) who are driving real results at fast-growing product companies such as startups and SMB organizations. All lessons are even recorded and available afterwards for you to consult and refer back to whenever needed. Ready to meet your product potential? Sign up for the workshop today.
Thanks to Loren O'Brien-Egesborg and Gabrielle Drouin for contributing to this article as well as reading drafts and overseeing aspects of its publication. Also, if you have any feedback or criticism about this article, then shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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