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Defining a Product Strategy Using Foundational Answers

Abbas Haider Ali

Head of Value Engineering & Success at Segment

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Problem

"When designing a product roadmap or strategy, I find that the best place to start is at the beginning. This is especially true if the problem space is very broad. Here are a couple of guidelines on how to get back to those basics."

Actions taken

  • "I am a big proponent for the First Principle approach. In this method, when faced with new problems and the desire to come up with new ideas, you must first start with the building blocks, the basics. For example, defining the problem that the company is trying to solve. Going back to this foundational answer will improve the clarity of your thinking by eliminating abstractions and unknowns. So begin by answering the following questions: what is the mission, and what is the problem? Frame what you want to do by first framing the problem that you want to solve."
  • "Have a well-defined intent. In most cases, this will be the business outcome. This will help you prioritize which part of the product needs to be addressed first. So let's say that you have talked to the team, you have an idea for the product, and now it has been built. (How it has been built is not relative at this stage.) What is the outcome that you wish to have now that the product is built? Once you understand the problem that needs to be solved and the intent behind it, then you can start asking about the details, the larger questions, what needs to be done to actually get there."
  • "Keep in mind what you want to do in the future, but not too far. It's great to think and plan ahead but getting too far ahead of yourself will inhibit the product's progress. Think about where the company stood a year or two years ago. Is the product that is being built now the same vision as it was a year or two ago? Probably not. I'm sure the product roadmap was entirely different. So focus on what problem you are trying to solve in the present while noting that changes to your strategy will likely occur with time and iteration."

Lessons learned

  • "The First Principle approach requires that somebody questions everything that you are doing and the reason behind those decisions. That way the actions taken towards building the product are always being brought back to the original problem that needs to be solved."
  • "Building a strategy and roadmap requires that you go beyond the surface level. It's about digging deeper to understand the problem you are trying to solve and how that relates to the company's mission statement."

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Abbas Haider Ali

Head of Value Engineering & Success at Segment


Organizational StrategyDecision Making

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