Implementing your Product Strategy: And, keeping your ducks in a row

Before there is a start-up, there is an idea of the product you want to sell i.e. the entrepreneur is trying to figure out the Product Strategy. However, how do you ensure that execution follows the seeds of the vision from Strategic to Tactical to Operational levels? As you would have imagined, this article takes forward the question left as a bread crumb in the last article. Irrespective of the scale of the product organizations, the problem we are discussing applies to all .

Over a period of time, the vision of the product to be built can seem abstract. Hence, we need a framework to ensure the value to be delivered is not lost. In the world of Product Management, you would hear multiple analogies comparing a Product Manager to a CEO, a Mime Conductor etc. I would like to share the analogy of Coxswain in the sport of Rowing.

This guy is called Coxswain and is symbolic of Product Manager. A coxswain is the “coach” in the boat and is necessary in the first place because the rowers sit with their backs to the direction of travel (Vision of the Product). The coxswain is responsible for steering the boat and coordinating the power and rhythm of the rowers (Synchronizing the execution). In some capacities, the coxswain is responsible for implementing the training regimen or race plan.

The boat represents the structure of the framework. The framework doesn’t bind but it sets free the organization to deliver the value.

One such proven framework is V2MOM. It stands for: Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. Today, many organizations (like Salesforce, Cisco etc) benefit from this Product Management Framework. It helps build visibility across the Value Chain of Product Management + Development.

A brief throwback — It is basically the way Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, wrote out the what and how he is going to build Salesforce in 1999. The company, since then, has grown to be a $21.25 Bn behemoth in last 22 years. Many other organizations have followed into footsteps of this framework.

Vision: A pure hypothetical here — let’s say your organization has a vision to be world’s most customer centric organization that provides team collaboration and communication solutions (like Slack, Teams etc). As a Product Manager, you have to keep yourself and your organization ‘honest’ on making a Community Product.

Hence, all the feature requests by customers that are not aligned with the vision above, shall not be engaged with. They are not Product Development Requests but they are more of Account Management Requests. At the end of the day, you are a Product Organization, not a Staffing Agency.

Values: Why does it matter? What's so important about this? How does it make a difference? Some examples of these could be 10X Thinking by Google and Leadership Principles by Amazon. If one of the values of organization is Customer Centricity ; this value would dictate decision making at an exec level for making investment decisions. Such guidance would be influential at Tactical and Operational level too.

PM often has to make trade-off decisions between User experience, Business Benefits and Technical Efficiency (image below) e.g.When the need arises for making a trade-off while building a feature in a firm like Amazon where ‘Customer Obsession’ is a core value, the balance of weights would be tilted towards building better customer experience within the realm of sanity and logical assessment of situation (i.e. Conditions applied)

Methods is what most construe to be Strategy. In methods, one needs to come up with the specific initiatives that your company or your department or even your team unit needs to take to achieve the vision. Product Leaders need to ensure How do these methods integrate back up to the vision and lower down to your product, eventually ladder up to the corporate V2MOM?

Obstacles are the results of a pro-active analysis of what is going to get in your way to fulfil the above methods. As a result, the Methods and Obstacles are closely tied together.

  • The solutions could range straightforward like the skill sets/capabilities you need to build that you or your organization needs to acquire
  • The barriers that you might see in terms of adoption of your products
  • The regulations that we need to comply with.

Tying the above to Measures: Measures are metrics, which define, and for lack of better words, measure your success. The abbreviation of SMARTER also applies when measuring the metrics i.e. how do we make sure our metrics are smart, measurable, actionable, time- bound and realistic. These metrics should be evaluated and can be revised.

Sharing the first V2MOM created by Marc Benioff :

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End Notes: Hi All, Thanks for dropping by and reading, till end. I am writing a series of articles on best practices in Product Management and Digital Transformation. The primary audiences are Product Managers (as you could have guessed), Business Consultants and everybody else in the world of Technology Solutions could find it, relevant.

This is the current list of articles focussed on Product Strategy which tries to answer the question — what is it? how does it influences prioritization? and how to trace your product strategy across your organization?

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About me: A seasoned Product Manager / Student working at the intersection of business growth, technical knowledge and design principles with 11+ years of experience of working in Tech Industry enabling ‘Digital Transformation and Organization Change’. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn

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Product Manager, working at the intersection of business growth, technical knowledge and design principles

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Vishal Balani

Vishal Balani

Product Manager, working at the intersection of business growth, technical knowledge and design principles

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