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How to execute your product strategy

This is the introduction to my 10-part series to help you execute and continuously improve your product strategy.

Early in my career, around 2000, I was working for a 100 year old company looking to make pioneering moves on this new-fangled thing called the Internet. After explaining to board members we could not acquire the Internet, I quickly learned to execute product strategy fast. The nervousness of being left behind drove significant investment across the sector, but the strategic confidence was poorly understood. The end goal was clear, but committing to exactly how we might arrive at it was not. The board understood this uncertainty and pushed a strong focus on value creation. 

These informative years in my first product leader role taught me the importance of two key lessons I have used throughout my career, including CPO roles supporting multiple 9-figure acquisitions.

People creating solutions need to see how they create a direct impact

Making software is not like manufacturing thousands of widgets which all look the same, even when the technology is very well understood.  It is filled with complexities, so strategy must share the direct impact designers, engineers, and product managers' software is going to have. Providing indirect outcomes further up the value chain, such as "increase ARR" or "reduce churn", is the same as providing no product strategy. 

Software is complex, strategy needs to leave space for the best solution to evolve

I learned quickly that product strategy needs space to be executed. A narrow strategy which dictates the solution by providing little room to manoeuvre does not work. There is always a mountain of unknowns, and decisions must be made without suitable confidence. This means the unhealthy but common obsession of focusing on feature delivery works against building a valuable and sustainable business.

Achieving business growth

The product strategy might not be 100% correct, but if we execute it efficiently and have feedback loops to learn and improve it, we will create the desired value and drive success. We must focus on learning velocity and continuous improvement. To do this, we need to understand which decisions underperform rapidly and then course correct. If the product strategy is only articulated as a list of features against a schedule, then we have provided no method to evaluate the performance of strategic product development. Delivering something to date does not demonstrate value creation, the outcome matters, not the output.

If your roadmap is overly specific about the solutions to deliver, you will waste money, fail to satisfy your customers, damage staff morale and miss market-leading opportunities.

We need to decouple the solution from how it will directly impact value. Then we can target product teams without lazy and wild ambiguity, such as "grow ARR by £10m", and avoid dictating the solution.

How the product will impact the user to derive value needs to be understood, targeted and measured. I use the Product VCP (value creation plan) to understand the value drivers that the strategy relies on. Using the Product VCP I align stakeholders, underpin decisions and empower teams. I have used the Product VCP to lead product development across multiple sectors, including EdTech, MarTech, Publishing, AdTech, big data, HRTech and more. It has been at the heart of multi-million dollar product decisions leading to significant growth and scale.

This 10-part series is a step-by-step guide to help you build your Product VCP and improve how you execute strategy. Done well, you will align leadership and empower product teams leading to market differentiation and growth. The first 4 articles introduce the concepts, while the final 6 articles explain how to build and use your Product VCP. 

The full series is listed below.

  1. Stop wasting money using the roadmap to execute your product strategy
  2. Understanding value assumptions on your product strategy
  3. Unlock the product impact value assumption
  4. Prioritise product effort based on the impact
  5. How to use the customer value mapper
  6. How to use the customer value explorer
  7. How to use the value assumption builder
  8. How to use the value indicator chooser
  9. How to use the product value creation tracker
  10. How to use the strategic value matrix
I hope you enjoy this series and can put it into practice. 

If you want help building your product value creation plan, you can subscribe to the 10-part guide, How to execute your product strategy. We will send you the articles and a download containing the templates used throughout the guide.


To accelerate building your Product VCP, check out our hands-on coaching program or our 1:1 product leader coaching.  

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