Most product managers in their careers would encounter a bad product strategy and would be expected to handle it effectively.
Once you have come across a bad product strategy, the potential paths to choose from are endless. However, not all routes would bring you the success you desire.
In such a situation, product vision comes into play. Product vision describes what you intend to achieve, your elevator pitch, and your exit from a bad product strategy.
While product vision dictates the ultimate end-state, product strategy guides you on how to get there. You wouldn’t have the time or resources to traverse down every viable path to exit your conundrum.
Product strategy dictates on how to describe to your organization the path to be taken to exit the wrong situation.
Challenges and Solutions To Manage a Bad Product Strategy
Challenge 1 — Deciding Your Direction
With so many paths at hand, you need to choose carefully as you wouldn’t exactly know the characteristics of the right track.
Brands often try to traverse every single path to manage their lousy product strategy.
Since you don’t have enough resources to stay stuck in this scenario, you need to come up with suitable solutions.
Solution: Leave a Trail
With so many assumptions and possible paths to tread, it is very easy to lose track of your current situation. The best way out of these different paths is to leave your trail.
This technique is called a ‘road-map,’ which portrays a multi-year stack-ranked timeline of features to be accomplished.
It will help if you relay your team about the gravity of the path that you, as a PM, are sending people down.
There is another strategy called ‘split trees,’ which is the process of extrapolating where your business gains or loses money. This way, you can gain insights into which path can yield maximum profits.
Further, these approaches can even guide you on what paths might completely waste your time without having to traverse down that path.
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Challenge 2 — How Far to Take a Path?
Once you take up a path but later discover that it is not as promising anymore. Thus you would have to ask yourself questions like –
- How long should you traverse down a path?
- How to calculate if you have adequate resources?
If you don’t have clear answers to these questions, you are headed down another path that ends up in a bad product strategy.
There are problems to traversing down a path that doesn’t yield high for too long –
- You may lack the resources needed to traverse down that path all the way.
- A path that might be successful for others isn’t necessarily going to yield the same for you.
- A customer’s exit path may not match yours, leading to dead ends in product management.
There are specific ways for product managers to avoid and manage such a bad product strategy.
Solution: Calculate How Far to Traverse Before Entering That Path.
One of the best ways to decide how far would be too far down a path is by preparing a list of questions that allows the Product Manager to understand what they’re dealing with, and the value they seek even before executing the task.
This helps create a valuable grip around the product development process and enables you to map out the journey before actually taking up that path.
Once your users are content with your new approach, it’s best to begin expanding and traverse deeper onto that path.
It would be best if you achieve a solid user base before expanding your strategy. If you fail to build a strong user base and are continuing your expansion, you’ve probably traversed too far.
Ways to Fix a Poor Product Strategy
1. Assign a team to drive the strategy.
It is advisable to assign a responsible person or team to drive your product strategy. You need a dedicated role in your company for better execution of your product strategy in the market.
Don’t let everyone in the company to have a hand in shaping that strategy but only a selected team of personnel to eliminate amateurish decisions.
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2. Demand Evidence to Support New Product Strategies from the Strategist
You need to identify some significant strategic initiatives to support your vision. These initiatives would surface after working closely with customers to discover their problems and how your product can solve them.
Then you would be able to present real evidence to your stakeholders that these strategic initiatives provide solutions that would interest your customers.
Emphasizing customer development instead of working amidst four walls, won’t cut it for you.
You should spend time on the road visiting with customers to find out the ideal segment, to extrapolate some common problems, and work your product around that.
Another part of your elaborate research would be to validate that your target customers would willingly invest in your provided solution, provided that it would solve significant problems for their respective companies.
In the entire career of a product manager, you are bound to encounter a situation where you would have to deal with a bad product strategy.
While there aren’t any tad-specific solutions to counter this problem, it is advisable to follow the above guidelines to produce desirable results.
The best product strategies used by some of the largest giants can still fail for diverse and ambiguous reasons, which is something that the product managers must realize in their careers.
Taking account of your current situation, the reason for choosing the paths you’ve chosen, and various indicators along the way can help you steer clear of a bad product strategy and even help you surmount this enigma.