Anyone else had times in their product career where an excel list of features was the source of prioritisation truth? I have. We’d list out all our ideas, give them scores based on what we thought was important and then spend hours debating why one feature ranked higher than another. It seemed structured way to handle things and make sure all the voices were heard.
Do you know what? Those endless debates on why one feature scored a point higher than another were draining and honestly, a bit pointless.
Ant Murphy alongside our panel of product leaders including Emily Chen and Frank Feustel brought this to life brilliantly last night at our Product Strategy Masterclass sharing their approach to strategy and prioritisation.
Here are some of the highlights:
Product strategy is all about making choices:
What opportunities should be pursued and just as importantly, what not to do.
"It's simply choices to do something, to be something to target a certain person or customer or market segment or do something in a certain sequence. Every single time you make a choice, you're also making a choice to not do something."
"Strategy shouldn't be easy. If the choices you're trying to make are easy, then you're probably not making the right choices."
Think in layers:
Prioritisation happens in layers, starting at the top with vision and strategy and then working down to opportunities and finally solutions."Prioritisations happens in layers and it starts at the top, with your vision and strategy, and then it works down to opportunities and finally solutions (which is why stack ranking solutions should be the last thing you do)."
Spend most of the time in the problem space:
Think about developing strategy in the way Einstein thought about problem solving,
"If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
While value is undoubtedly crucial, solely relying on it can sometimes lead to misguided decisions. A task perceived as high-value might not always translate to a desirable outcome, especially if there's a lack of clarity or confidence regarding the execution.
"Prioritise based on value. Yeah logical. Although it turns out that that's pretty bad advice because what do we mean by value? Is it customer value, business value? Is it revenue? Is it reducing costs?"
Confidence entails having a clear understanding and assurance about a particular task's feasibility and impact. When you have a higher degree of confidence in a task, the likelihood of its success and achieving the outcome increases significantly.
Intersection of confidence and value:
Prioritisation becomes more effective when there’s a balanced consideration of both value and confidence. It’s about assessing the potential value of a task alongside the level of confidence you have in being able to successfully complete it and achieve the desired outcome.
"what we're looking for is the intersect between the strategic choice we've made, the goal that we've set and all of the customer problems that we can solve".
Align to business goals:
A good product strategy helps ensure that the features or opportunities you're considering actually match up with what you want to achieve as a business. This way, you’re more likely to work on things that contribute to your business’s success.
Be evidence informed:
There is more to data than metrics. Product discovery comes in many forms and is key to developing the right strategy. Think hard about the questions you need answered and the assumptions you have made and get the data to validate - talk to customers.
Communicate your strategy:
Bridge the gap so that what the teams are actually working on is connected to the strategic intent. If they are not, find out why. It what you are asking unrealistic? Have they not bought into it?
Product Strategy is often the missing piece in the puzzle for organisations that are stuggling with prioritisation and achieving sustained product success. It connects the Vision to the Roadmap and without it, there is often misalignment and waste with confused internal teams and products that don't resonate with customers.