High-performing organizations develop insights-driven strategies to define clear, relevant promises – both externally to their customers/users and internally to their employees. Once brands have that north star direction, it’s then critical to engage all levels of the organization to consistently deliver on their promises.
Failure to define the right promise or follow through with effective, coordinated implementation negatively impacts an organization’s reputation and bottom line.
An evidence-based Product Strategy plays a critical role in supporting an organization’s broader strategic direction while also outlining how the underlying set of promises will be consistently kept.
The best, most effective strategies are insights-driven.
Building a comprehensive understanding of your brand’s reputation, market, competitors, and key stakeholders [e.g., customers, employees, investors/shareholders, etc.] is foundational to strategic planning. Failure to understand these key dynamics often leads to strategies that are informed by ‘gut feel’ with poorly defined focus areas.
At Level5, we leverage a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and proprietary research to create robust insights that inform our downstream collaborative Strategic Planning workshops.
Promises often don’t exist as a tangible artifact; instead, they’re consistently communicated and delivered to key stakeholders. In the 2000s, TD differentiated through their customer-centric promise of “Banking can be this comfortable”. While this promise wasn’t part of TD’s Strategic Plan, concepts like customer-centricity and digital enhancements might have been.
Like a Strategic Plan, a Product Strategy generally has a Vision and Goals. This high-level direction helps to connect the Product team’s efforts and focus to the organization’s strategy and promises. In this sense, a Product Strategy plays a key role in not only establishing direction for the Product team, but clarifying how the Team’s efforts will fulfill the organization’s broader strategic goals and promises.
Unlike a Strategic Plan, Product Strategies often include additional, more tactical details that help the Product team consistently deliver on the Product Strategy’s Vision and Goals, which, as outlined above, support the organization’s broader Strategic Plan and Promises.
A well-designed Product Roadmap helps to guide product development efforts over a fixed amount of time; generally, we recommend 18-36 months depending on development lead times.
Listing out product development timelines, resources, milestones, and dependencies helps an organization ensure its commitments to customers are consistently delivered and that the Product Strategy is being effectively implemented.
Product Architecture creates structure to help buyers/users understand your organization’s full offering. Additionally, going through the process of defining your Product Architecture and Category Management can help to expose portfolio gaps to address.
SKU rationalization is rarely part of an organization’s promise. That said, it plays a critical role in creating efficiencies that can be re-allocated to propel future growth.
Beyond that, SKU rationalization helps organizations maintain a competitive portfolio and avoid personality attributes such as ‘out-dated’, ‘stodgy’, ‘same old same old’.
Like any effective strategy, the Product Strategy and its components should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they’re aligned to market realities and different opportunities and/or risks. Regular reviews and strategy validation sessions will help to ensure that the Team’s direction remains aligned to customers’/users’ needs and where there is the most opportunity for growth.
Any strategy’s effectiveness is predicated on the assumptions that helped to shape it [insights] and the organization’s ability to mobilize its people and culture to deliver on it. Aligning your organization’s corporate strategy with other key resources, like a Product Strategy and Roadmap, will help to improve execution and the consistent delivery of your Promises.