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As a Product Manager Never Lose Sight of Your Product Strategy

Product
Product Team

5 June, 2019

Gaurav Anand, Senior Product Manager at Zalando, explains why product managers should stay committed to the product strategy and how that relates to idea prioritization.

Problem

As a product manager, you are always after new ideas. You seek to solve your customers' needs by proliferating fresh ideas. Some product managers believe that their creativity flow will be disrupted by developing a product road map and opt to avoid anything that will restrain the free flow of ideas. Immersed in daily tasks and fragmented into small teams, they lose sight of their product strategy.

Actions taken

  • Become familiar with your product strategy. Try to understand how the overall company vision relates to the product vision and how the two of them are intertwined. They should inspire and guide people in all their daily endeavors.
  • Capture and write down every idea in a product backlog. Create a table with four columns: idea, hypothesis, experiment description and key performance indicators (KPIs). Then, identify the most cost-efficient way to build a hypothesis and validate the result.
  • Imagine that there is one big funnel full of experiments and that only a number of them will be successful. How will you select the ideas and experiments that you want to move forward with? This is the moment to refer to the strategy and leave metrics aside. You should not discard the idea only because KPIs are neutral if that idea contributes to the overall vision. Transcend the moment and look at the bigger picture.
  • Sometimes your team members will fail to understand your choices. Try to clearly and compellingly explain to them how your choices are embedded in the product strategy. You may choose to write a blog post at your company website or to communicate your thoughts in another way.
  • As a product manager, you should spend 30% of your time on your strategy. You should spend the same amount of time on engineering while sharing the rest between communication and meeting. In the morning you can focus on strategy and in the afternoon you can run experiments.
  • Meet weekly with your Head of Product to ensure that s/he is familiar with how strategy translates into discovery and delivery items and how this process can be enhanced.

Lessons learned

  • The product journey starts with a clear and coherent product strategy. The strategy should include vision and goals that are inspiring but tangible. Become acquainted with all elements of your strategy and be able to separate your work in two strings: discovery and delivery string.
  • When it comes to idea prioritization always stay committed to the strategy even if the product metrics are not favorable to the idea. Nowadays there are many prioritization techniques and methodologies. Use them wisely but don't sacrifice an idea that corresponds to the vision just because you got persuaded by numbers.
  • Team members are usually immersed in details and fail to understand the link between a specific feature and the overall strategy. It is your role as a product manager to explain it.
  • By deciding to acknowledge the importance of strategy, allocate enough time during your work week to stay committed to it. Seclude yourself and translate that decision to your weekly calendar.

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