Learnings from My First Pluralsight Lesson on Product Strategy

I’m interested in strategy and specifically, product strategy (micro — what features need to be in a product & why — and macro — how does the product fit in with a company’s business needs & goals… should the product even be built or attained through a partnership or buyout?). As I have access to Pluralsight, a tech workforce development MOOC, I nabbed the opportunity to take Creating Holistic Product Strategies by Joel Lamendola.

Lamendola remarked that there are three major themes to product strategy:

  • Address both the customers’ needs and the business’ needs
  • Creating product strategy is an iterative process
  • Use key elements of product strategy to guide you

Beyond those three themes, product strategy can be broken down into several components, as shown below:

Lamendola began by recommending to start with customers. In order to do so, market landscape analyses often help. One may choose to contract with a consultant, buy the analysis off the shelf or build it oneself, each with their own pros and cons.

Then, Lamendola transitioned to asking the product manager to describe & understand the opportunity. What is needed by consumers (what gap exists?), what is its relevance, what is the serviceable market size [and timeframe] and what is the rationale (ie. how certain are we that this gap is present)? Product performance versus price and product friendliness versus price graphs can help one visualize the market landscape. Moreover, Lamendola touched upon a) developing a product concept — it is vital to have a product vision statement and list product features, including price, that map to benefits for end consumers and b) the importance of [making & clarifying] assumptions.

Discussed towards the end of Lamendola’s presentation was how to use feedback productively and adapt to constraints. Product managers need to expose constraints — ask for what you need & requests for tangible actions will force a decision (or expose a lack of one) — and use a product roadmap to aid in product development / new business initiatives. Inputs to the product roadmap can include tech development plans, Voice of Customer (“a term that describes your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services”) information and identified consumer desires. The product strategy and product roadmap should always be aligned. Customer groups may be segmented so the product can be tailored for a demographic. Lastly, Lamendola highlighted the art of balancing risk (the impact of the product’s launch) and opportunity within product strategy. He urged product managers to build cohesive strategies and constantly iterate. Above all else, ensure incremental progress is made.

Lamendola also explained the financial forecasting aspect of product strategy. He went into revenue, cost (direct versus indirect), ROI, the time value of money, net present value (the present value of all future cash flows generated by the business initiative) and the internal rate of return (the annual rate of growth an investment is expected to generate). Product managers should have a general sense of these terms and how they will be calculated and tracked upon the launch of a product or service.

Overall, I enjoyed Lamendola’s course. He reinforced his principles with the use of a lawn mower company example and reiterated his three main product strategy takeaways at the conclusion of the lesson. I would have liked the course to be more structured (the ordering of content seemed questionable at times — eg. mentioning constraints only over halfway through the course), videos/platform to have included more interactive components (eg. a quiz after several “chapters”, similar to what Udemy courses generally offer) and a transcribed PDF to have followed along with.

Thank you, Mr. Lamendola!



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