Jackie Bavaro: How to Crack Your Product Strategy
Practical tips on how to define a product strategy and get buy-in for it across your org
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How do you define a product strategy and get buy-in for it across your company?
I spoke to Jackie about:
Why product strategy matters
How to define a great vision and strategy
How to communicate your strategy
Strategy is an key skill for PMs who want to level up. Jackie breaks it down below.
Why product strategy matters
Welcome Jackie! Do you have a personal anecdote on why product strategy matters?
Yes, I joined Google in 2007 as an APM in the developer org working on data APIs.
If you asked me then, "Why does your org exist?" I would say that we supported the creation of great websites which would lead to more web searches and ad revenue. My team had a roadmap but I didn’t have a clear picture of what the world will look like if my roadmap succeeded.
A PM who took over my team had a better vision. He wanted to build the “operating system for the internet” by making our infra broadly available to any developer. That was a wake-up call that I hadn’t been thinking big enough.
Looking back, I think our entire organization wasn’t thinking big enough.
Amazon Web Services started around the same time as Google App Engine. We were too focused on small developers and didn’t take a step back to explore how we could support big websites and change how apps are built while turning a profit.
App Engine became Google Cloud, which has always lagged Amazon since.
I love that story! What are the core components of a great strategy to you?
A great strategy has three components:
Vision: This is your inspiring view of the future. It’s a picture of what people’s lives might look like if your product is wildly successful.
Strategic framework: This is your target market and the product pillars and strategic principles that it’ll take to win.
Roadmap: This is the high level steps you’ll take to achieve your vision in a fixed time frame. It’s a reality check for whether your vision is achievable.
I think too many PMs jump into strategy without understanding the 3 Cs (customer, competition, company). How do you know when you’re ready to define a strategy?
Yes! It’s critical to take a month or two first to understand:
What users want. Talk to at least 10 users to identify patterns on who your core customer is, what their problems are, and what existing solutions do they use.
What the data is saying. Look at existing usage metrics to explore how your product might fit into your core customer’s lives.
How your company works. Get to know your key stakeholders and your company’s culture and planning timelines.
How to define a great product vision
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