Product Strategy

Notes from

Types of Product work

First you go from zero to one on product-market fit (PMF), but that’s a company’s overall strategy. AFTER that you move into:

  1. Feature Strategy
  2. Growth Strategy: maximize existing product value propositions (acquisition, retention, monetization)
  3. PMF Expansion Strategy: adds new value props to an existing product.
  4. Scaling

Common strategy problems

  1. Working on growth when you should be focusing on features: premature optimization.
  2. Working on features, when you should be doing growth work: expanding too much of the surface area, when you should be getting the existing product to more people.
  3. Working on growth or features, when you should focus on expanding PMF: you won’t grow if you saturated your PMF.

Great prouct strategy

Start with the end in mind (from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders). A great strategy shows in a targeted form how you will get towards that end.

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.

Michael Porter, HBS Professor and “Father of Competitive Strategy”

A great strategy understands the issues coming up, limitations and constraints, and has a clear plan of action to address and push beyond those limitations.

Creating a great strategy

  1. Identify strategic priorities
  2. Trnaslate priorities: ideate and refine work ideas.
  3. Develop a workplan: categorize order of work based on importance and urgency.
  4. Communicate & iterate

Strategy is not

  1. Metrics and goals – that’s progress tracking and alignment
  2. Roadmaps – list of activities
  3. New features or products – those build towards a strategy
  4. Resourcing – team or money allocation
  5. MIssion – long-term beliefs and values

Symptoms of a bad strategy

  1. Unmeaningful work. People work on things that just end up not mattering or are incremental.
  2. Randomness. People work on things that are random without a common purpose or theme.
  3. Thrashing. Goals and objectives just change with the weather, creating a feeling of thrashing among the team and organization.
  4. Lack of purpose. People don’t understand how they fit into the broader picture and how to impact it.
  5. A lack of understanding and trust. People don’t understand why others are working on what they are working on.
  6. Goals are consistently way off, over and over.
  7. You end up not being able to get buy-in. In other words, you struggle to get buy-in around initiatives and you just don’t know why.
  8. Surprise ceilings. You hit these surprise ceilings or local maximums in your attempts to improve your product strategy.

Feature Strategy

Feature evaluation

As a leader you aren’t working on one feature at a time anymore. You need to think through how all the pieces fit together.

Fareed Mosavat, Director of Product at Slack
  1. Feature: discrete piece of product value that contribute to a product’s core use case.
  2. Product: bundles of features that create value for a given product’s core use case.

Feature Product Fit: feature meaningfully enhances a product’s ability to create and/or capture value.

  1. Acquisition
  2. Retention
  3. Monetization

It’s not about the feature’s metric, but the value from the overall product. Individual PMs tend to focus on individual metrics, while the product lead should look holisitically.

TARS Evaluation Framework: Target, Adopted, Retained, Satisfaction

To achieve feature-product fit you need to:

  1. Evaluate & enhance existing features
  2. Develop new features

For features, you should look at feature-level metrics:

  1. Adoption
  2. Retention
  3. Satisfaction

You need to understand the business impact of a feature to set the right adoption, retention and satisfaction metrics.

First describe your feature qualitatively

  1. Identify your core users (feature designed for them), adjacent users (get some value, but not designed for), non-adjacent (feature not designed for them).
    • Describe the target user (qualitatively)
    • Target user sizing
  2. User value
    • Describe the user problem
    • User problem frequency
    • User problem severity (think of workarounds)
  3. Business value
    • Business Impact: value the feature adds directly to the business
    • Strategic Importance: larger target segment, sequency/unblock future, etc.

Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Omar Eduardo