Product Strategy, the Missing Link by Nicholas Goubert

It may be obvious, but defining your strategy, goals, and mission is something we all need to have rooted at the heart of everything we do – but it’s very easy to get pulled in countless different directions while we try to deliver against these.

In this talk at MTP Engage Manchester, VP of Digital Services at Native Instruments Nicholas Goubert reminded us of the importance of getting your hands dirty – whether by surfing, by building old bikes, or by getting involved with the overall direction of the products you ship.

Nicholas introduced his talk with some wise words from the ancient Chinese military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu which should resonate with most product managers: “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

It’s not just that “business as usual” gets in the way, changes to an organisation’s executive groups and tweaks to the company vision can lead to disconnects between strategy and tactics. Nicholas suggested that product strategy can be used to translate the vision into an actionable and executable plan that also encompasses a business’s overall organisational objectives.

Nicholas used the word “brutal” to describe these disconnects – which should also resonate with product people. A lack of alignment with the overall business can be catastrophic.

However, you can rectify disconnects. You can break down silos, get people talking, reposition the product strategy and vision – and agree on it. Focusing departments on solving difficult problems and capitalising on data from existing users is a huge opportunity if you can turn it into an execution plan.

This is where roadmaps come into their own, according to Nicholas. A roadmap can be high level but it begins to focus minds and gives teams the direction they need. It provides them with a way of demonstrating that the work they do is tangible and aligned to the business overall objectives.

You should never underestimate the importance of your product vision, roadmap, or strategy, according to Nicholas, nor the importance of talking about it regularly across your organisation.

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