Thinking Out Loud: Creating Product Strategies

Tamer El-Hawari invited us to record a session for the Project A podcast with him. We talked about product strategies, The Product Field and Field. Listen to Klaus-Peter and me thinking out loud — but sorry, no simple answers here!

Product innovation is complex. Creating new things is complex. That is the very nature of innovation, creation, and development. And there is no silver bullet to strategy and innovation!

That is why we took some time to discuss what makes a good strategy, what not to do when creating strategies, and how to avoid outdated strategy documents.

Listen to the Podcast:

PowerPoint Slides are not the Product Strategy

Have you ever been in that situation where you tried to update the most recent product strategy document? You open your Google Docs to find the latest version. You read through what you came up with a few months, if not years, ago. You feel like an archaeologist, carefully removing the dust, trying to protect your findings. You read through that document and remember some discussions that led to the thoughts, sentences, and conclusions that appear in front of your screen. From today’s perspective, you find single elements that are still important parts of your product and its context, but you cannot link them to today’s reality. You then decide to rewrite the whole document, instead of updating it. What happened in between these two points in time where you decided to rework the product strategy and its description?

Too often we think that the strategy is equal to the slides we are presenting. But that’s not true! They only show one story for a specific audience at a specific point in time time, based on some of the elements of the strategy.

These elements are a description of what is, what ought to be, obstacles, and coherent actions that cover the desirability, marketability, feasibility, and viability of a product. A good strategy is holistic: It unites different perspectives and expressed a greater truth. A shared product strategy leads to commitment and alignment. A clear strategy distributes and speeds up decisions making. It empowers product teams to act and learn on their behalves while contributing to the greater whole.

What We Need: Ongoing Strategy

And that is, why we are building Field: To organize all elements of a strategy. To improve the quality of product strategies, and its description. To help the product team keep an up-to-date version of their product strategy while creating the thing they are working on. Teams that do work with Field realize how shared understanding and context-awareness emerge along the way.

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