How to create a practical digital product strategy

We can build anything at this point.
Software technology is mature enough. The question is no longer – Can we build it?
It’s more like – Why should we?

The software market is already a sea of similar products. Products for which if you were to swap their marketing pages, no one would know. They do pretty much the same thing just look a bit different.  

At the other end of the market is the pile of unused software products. It’s quite a big pile. It’s touching the sky and disappearing into the clouds.

What about the empty space in between the sea of sameness and the unusable pile? Why is nobody claiming it?

Either way, it seems like it’s not working. 

At the same time, there are products that pop out in the market from time to time and claim an empty space. And when you see them, you say to yourself – I could have thought of that. 

But what do you think they do differently aside from being lucky?

Strategy

Originally doing strategy is something big corporations do. It’s a lot of fluff.
It seems impractical. A waste of time. Done once and never used after.

That’s why a lot of startup founders skip it. 

Other kinds do it in their heads and share it partially with their teams.  

And there are some who do it often, do it collaboratively, have a clear process and actionable outcomes that produce results. 

With that said, let’s do some product strategy.  

Open a blank text document, copy/paste the steps below and start answering some questions. 

Digital product strategy - step by step

1. Identify the challenge

Ask: What is not working? What's stopping you to achieve your product goal?

2. Frame your challenge as a question

Ask: How might we...

3. Generate possibilities 

Ask: What are the strategic choices that could solve this challenge? List everything that comes to mind, no filters.

4. Outline possibilities

Ask: What are the top 3 possibilities from the list above? Outline each using these questions:

4.1 What is your goal?

Ask: What is the future of your product in 2 years time? Be super optimistic.

4.2 Where will you operate?

Ask: What is the geography, customer segment, channel, offer, stage of production? What will you do yourself and what will you leave to suppliers, channels and partners?

4.3 How will you win?

Ask: What is your differentiation:  lower cost, quality, brand, experience?

4.4 What capabilities must we have? 

Ask: What are the distinctive capabilities that will help us win?

4.5 What management systems are required?

Ask: What is required: infrastructure, system, processes to support and measuring your strategy over time?

5. What would have to be true? 

Ask: What are the conditions under which each possibility could be a winning strategy?

6. Identify barriers 

Ask: What are the conditions that feel the most uncertain for you? What are the things you need to test in order to choose your new strategy?

7. Test to learn 

Ask: What can you research or prototype to learn to what extent your barriers are real or not?

8. Make a choice 

Ask: Which possibility has got the most compelling evidence to succeed? 

Run with it for at least one month. Review the results. Did you find a new challenge? If you did, start this process from the top. If not, double down on what is working or pick one of the other possibilities you already outlined in the first session.

You can do this whole thing on your own but for the best results involve your team. Make an in-person or virtual workshop. Use the “note and vote” method by Google Ventures to generate ideas and make decisions fast. 

There you have it.

My 8-step process for creating an actionable strategy for your digital product.

Do you see yourself using this method next time you face your next big challenge in your product journey? What would you add or remove from this process?

Tweet at me, message me in LinkedIn or send me an email. I’d like to hear from you.


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