Product Strategy is more than just structured workshops; it emerges from the messy middle between company priorities and practical synthesis. A tool particularly useful for navigating this complexity is the Product Field.
I got excited when KP (one of the Co-Creators of the Product Field and Co-Founder of Field) sent me a copy of their latest book, The Field Guide for Visual Product Thinkers (more on how to get your copy for free later).
This book goes beyond discussing the Product Field and instead picks up timeless practices and their connections to the Product Field’s structure. Focusing on the non-linear work behind arriving at practical frameworks, not just the templates, always excites me.
Here are my top three sections from the book.
Shaping the Bigger Picture from Multiple Practices
It’s easy to be overly attached to one practice or framework and get lost in an all-or-nothing proposition. One of my favorite sections is when various frameworks’ contributions are made explicit. Whether heavy hitters like the Business Model Canvas or a company-specific approach like XING’s Auftragsklärung, your favorite practice only serves the bigger picture.
Ice Cream > Dog Food
No, I have not slipped into writing a culinary blog–Hear me out. Dog food rarely appeals to your colleagues, but their input on the validity of your work is. How about considering your products’ internal “Enablers” or “Drivers” as users for a particular strategy phase to create an explicit setup for beta testing or… dogfooding (the ice cream metaphor stems from the former Microsoft CIO Tony Scott)
Your Strategy Evolves with the Progress of your Roadmap
It’s no secret that execution is required to implement even the most promising choices. But instead of turning that carefully articulated Strategy into a disconnected plan, keep the components of your strategy evolving as you learn more through shipping to learn. A time-based approach can work to reflect on the influence of deliverables as you get closer to release or to document your product’s evolution. I recommend a NOW/NEXT/LATER approach for the high-level translation of your Strategy first.
BONUS: Bring your Own Shape
Instead of getting bogged down by the shape of other organizations, use a flexible structure like the Product Field to think about the shape you want to use to define and execute Product Strategy. I loved this explicit invite to uncover instead of follow. Or, as Melissa Perri once wrote: “What if strategy is something that is uncovered as we learn what will help us achieve our objectives?”
How you can get your Free Copy of The Field Guide for Visual Product Thinkers
KP and Michael have graciously agreed to offer the digital version of the book for free to all subscribers of my newsletter for three days (until Nov 27 2023, 11:59 PM CET). All you have to do is use the code i-know-tim during the checkout. Or head over to https://herbig.link/visual-field for the pre-applied code. After reading, make sure to leave a rating.
That’s (almost) all, dear reader. If you enjoyed today’s issue, please share it on LinkedIn or Twitter to help more people discover it.
Thank you for Practicing Product,
Make Talking to Users a Team Sport
User researchers are often the 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 choice for conducting interviews. But, their time is limited. And making them a bottleneck is unfair to both research and product teams. Instead, companies should aim to give teams the autonomy and infrastructure to own their Discovery results truly.
That’s why I got excited when Raphael told me about the “round robin” functionality he and the team are adding to Orbital (which I’m advising). Through it, you can invite team members to participate in the “automagically” recruited interviews series.
They are opening a few more early access spots if you’re interested: https://herbig.link/orbital-pp303 (reply, and I can help bump your waitlist spot)
Content I found Practical This Week
Feature/Product Fit has a similar process. We’ll call this the Feature/Product Fit Checklist: The feature has to retain users for that specific feature. The feature has to have a scalable way to drive its own adoption. Feature/Product Fit has a third requirement that is a bit different: the feature has to improve retention, engagement, and/or monetization for the core product.
The Intersection of Company and Product Strategy
So I think your product strategy is a perfect subset of your company strategy, and the only thing that we’re really debating here is how much of a subset is it? Is it most of it or is it just one little piece? A classic example for me is Ikea. I was at a conference last week and I was talking to somebody who manages Ikea’s mobile product, which has fancy augmented reality stuff in it and everything you’d expect these days. But obviously that’s not the Ikea strategy, that’s just a product strategy, so I think there is clearly a subset relationship and just the magnitude of the subset is what’s actually relevant.
What is the right amount of ‘Strategic Ambiguity’?
Consider some “smells” of an overly specific strategy:
• Are there specific features, epics, or project names in your strategy? If they are there it is probably overly specific.
• How many ways could someone meet this strategy? If it is very few (or only one) it is probably overly specific.
• Is it something that allows for different people to be motivated in different ways? If it is just about increasing revenue it is probably overly specific.
• Is this a big enough problem for everyone to solve? If it is too narrow to allow for the team to focus then you are potentially too specific (or you need a bigger team)