The Art of Asynchronous Product Planning: Combining Documentation and Storytelling

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

May 07, 2024

3 min read


The Art of Asynchronous Product Planning: Combining Documentation and Storytelling

In today's fast-paced world, where knowledge is constantly evolving and individuals may not always be available, the importance of documentation cannot be overstated. The Department of Product understands this and emphasizes the Culture of Documentation, encouraging team members to search for information before asking and write down their knowledge before sharing it. By adopting asynchronous communication, the department has found a way to ensure that valuable insights and ideas are available 24/7.

Async Communication, as employed by the Department of Product, can be likened to a message queue for people. It allows for both transactional meetings, focused on work tasks and productivity, and social meetings, fostering team bonding and enjoyment. This prioritization of asynchronous workflows ensures that processes are initiated and tracked through a central Notion document. For visual elements or demonstrations that go beyond plain text, tools like Miro and Loom are utilized, with their content linked in the main Notion doc. To prevent discussions from becoming overwhelming, the team breaks down broad topics into smaller, more manageable discussions.

When planning product features, it is essential to follow a logical sequence. The first step is to understand the 'why' behind the feature. This includes identifying business goals, client requests, and aligning them with the company's overall objectives. Only once the 'why' is clear can the team move on to defining the 'what' - what exactly needs to be built. Once the 'what' is established, the team can delve into the 'how' - the implementation trade-offs and technical discussions. Product Managers often play a crucial role in this phase, providing input on the feasibility and potential trade-offs of different approaches. It is important to note that the 'how' section may involve deciding between a fast, but mediocre solution, and a slower, but more robust one. To ensure alignment, the 'how' section should include a clear outline of the technical tasks and confirmation from those who defined the 'why'.

Moving into the realm of project management, the 'who' aspect comes into play. Assigning the right people to the project is crucial for its success. Often, the open-endedness of big features is due to the need to identify the goals, approach, and possibilities. By involving the appropriate stakeholders and team members, the Department of Product ensures a comprehensive understanding of the project and facilitates effective collaboration.

In today's world, where attention spans are short and complexity is abundant, storytelling has become a powerful tool. When faced with complex topics, storytelling serves as leverage, distilling complicated concepts into easy-to-grasp scenes. People are naturally drawn to stories, and they provide an effective way to communicate ideas and engage with others. By incorporating storytelling techniques into product planning, the Department of Product harnesses the power of narrative to create compelling features that resonate with users.

In conclusion, the combination of asynchronous communication, documentation, logical planning, and storytelling enables the Department of Product to effectively plan and develop innovative product features. By prioritizing documentation, leveraging asynchronous workflows, and incorporating storytelling techniques, teams can enhance collaboration, streamline decision-making, and create products that captivate audiences. To implement these strategies successfully, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace asynchronous communication: Encourage team members to document their knowledge and search for information before asking for help. This ensures that valuable insights are available at any time, even when individuals are not.
  • 2. Prioritize logical planning: Follow a clear sequence of understanding the 'why,' defining the 'what,' and exploring the 'how.' This approach helps align business goals, technical considerations, and available resources.
  • 3. Harness the power of storytelling: Use storytelling techniques to distill complex concepts into engaging narratives. Leverage the emotional impact of stories to create products that resonate with users and captivate their attention.

By incorporating these strategies, teams can enhance their product planning process and create innovative features that meet user needs and drive business success.

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