The Product Strategy Stack: How People Think

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Apr 21, 2024

4 min read


The Product Strategy Stack: How People Think

In today's business landscape, companies no longer gain a strategic advantage solely through operational capabilities such as supply chains and logistics. The quality of their products has become the deciding factor for success. However, many companies struggle with prioritizing their product strategies, which hinders their ability to execute effectively.

One of the main issues is the lack of guidance on how to make rigorous prioritization decisions. Without a clear and connected strategy, teams find it difficult to execute, resulting in missed opportunities. To address this, it is crucial to have a well-defined and communicated strategy that is aligned with the company's mission and day-to-day work.

The product strategy is an essential component of the overall company strategy. It outlines the logical plan for how the product will contribute to achieving the company's goals. A product roadmap, on the other hand, defines the sequence of features that will implement the product strategy. These features should be designed to deliver value to users and align with the company's mission.

While the mission and strategy of companies like Slack and Discord may differ, their product teams often work towards similar goals. However, it is important to tether roadmaps and goals to the product and company strategy, rather than defining them in isolation. Understanding that strategy is the plan to achieve a goal, not the goal itself, allows teams to focus on how they will win while defining what winning looks like.

It is a common mistake for product leaders to assume that product strategy is the same as company strategy. They overlook the significant role that other functions, such as sales, marketing, and support, play in the overall success of a company. While product has become more central to strategy, it is not the exclusive driver.

A good company mission is aspirational and emotionally appealing. It motivates both the team and customers, giving them a sense of purpose. The company mission should only change as the company's view of the world changes. Some companies also define a vision, which describes the world they see, and a mission, which outlines the role the company plays in that world.

Understanding how people think is essential for effective product strategy. People are part of various tribes and are influenced by emotions and facts. Emotions play a significant role in decision-making, and they cannot be predicted with a formula. Jealousy, for example, is often misguided because it fails to consider the full picture of someone's life.

Efficiency is highly sought after, but it can limit creativity and exploration. Allowing time for wandering and letting thoughts run free can lead to productive forms of thought. Complexity often sells better than simplicity because it gives the impression of control. However, simplicity should not be mistaken for cluelessness.

The gap between an outsider's perspective and firsthand experience can be significant. Rationality is subjective and can vary based on individual experiences. It is important to consider the different perspectives and experiences of others when forming opinions.

Understanding the power of compounding is crucial for long-term success. It is not about earning the highest returns, but rather sustaining the best returns over a significant period of time. Simple solutions to problems can be the most effective, but getting people to follow simple advice can be challenging.

In reality, both good and bad experiences shape our future fortunes. Miracles and disasters happen at roughly the same rate in a person's life. Recognizing that BS (bullshit) is ubiquitous allows us to navigate a messy and imperfect world. Identifying the optimal amount of hassle and nonsense to tolerate is an underrated skill that can help us succeed while maintaining relationships.

In conclusion, a well-defined and communicated product strategy is crucial for companies to succeed in today's market. It should be aligned with the company's mission and connected to day-to-day work. Understanding how people think and incorporating their perspectives can lead to more effective strategies. Additionally, embracing simplicity, recognizing the power of compounding, and managing the optimal amount of hassle are actionable advice for achieving long-term success.

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