The Product Strategy Stack - Deepstash
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How to spot a Product Strategy problem?

When prioritising becomes hard, it is usually a strategy problem:

  • Should I prioritize building a new feature or optimizing an existing flow?
  • Should I prioritize closing more deals or extending existing contracts?
  • Should I prioritize building this tool in-house or license a third party service for now?

Difficulty prioritizing is often a strategy issue, not an execution issue. It is impossible to make rigorous prioritization decisions when the guidance on how to do so is missing, unclear or disconnected from what you are trying to do.

Fixing the issue = fixing the strategy.


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Product Strategy Stack

Product Strategy Stack

"Strategy" should not be an amorphous, all-encompassing concept. Instead, we should think about it in distinct terms:

  1. Company Mission - The world your company sees & the change it wants to bring to that world
  2. Company Strategy - The logical plan you have to bring your company’s mission into being
  3. Product Strategy - The logical plan for how the product will drive its part of the company strategy
  4. Product Roadmap - The sequence of features that implement the Product Strategy
  5. Product Goals - The quarterly & day-to-day outcomes of the Product Roadmap that measure progress against the Product Strategy


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Tops Down = Definition, Bottoms Up = Evaluation

Tops Down = Definition, Bottoms Up = Evaluation

The Product Strategy Stack is a system we can use for both planning and execution:

Tops Down: Teams can work from the top of the stack down to 1) define the stack, 2) work at a progressively finer level to plan product execution, and 3) align the company to that execution plan.

Bottoms-Up: In addition, teams can work bottoms-up to 1) communicate the status of execution and 2) track how well the product team's work is driving company-level objectives.


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Slack vs. Discord: A Case Study

Slack vs. Discord: A Case Study

2 products that kinda have the same functionality. But very different:

Different Missions: Slack is for work and Discord is for play. One about productive communication another about connection

Different Company Strategies: Slack's strategy focuses on improving workplace productivity while Discord focuses on building communities, with a focus on gaming.

But, once we get into the product, things begin to look more similar. The user experience for both products is surprisingly alike. However even when both apps have a similar functionality, the reasoning is different. And subtle differences matter.


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Roadmap before Goals

Many companies believe that teams should set goals first, then define the roadmap to meet those goals:

As a company, we know what we want to accomplish and we'll empower our teams to figure out how to do it.

This rarely works in practice. In the absence of any roadmap, teams are lost. This "goals first" approach incentivizes teams to do whatever it takes to achieve short-term goals, often at the expense of a focused features, UX etc.

Instead, goals should flow from a product roadmap that has been designed to deliver value to users. Instead of "seeing what sticks" to customer-centric.


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Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.


Some of the ideas about product and roadmapping from an the product lead at Meta, Tinder or Tripadvisor.


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