Good books and practitioners of product strategy have tried to outline what strategy is and how it translates into actionable practice over the past few years. Thinking about strategy is not new, of course, but its application to the internet economy and digital products has really been defined more clearly over the past 10 years, and books such as Good Strategy / Bad Strategy and, in particular, 7 Powers — recommended by some of the best founders and investors in the industry – have helped mould this collective knowledge base through amazing synthesis.
Others, like Ben Thompson, Tren Griffin, Web Smith, Gibson Biddle or Ryan Singer, write, teach and distil product strategy through their writing, analogies and analysis. Let’s define strategy through some of their insights:
“Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes” — Good Strategy / Bad Strategy
“How will your product delight customers, in hard to copy, margin-enhancing ways?” — Gibson Biddle
“Power: The set of conditions creating the potential for persistent differential returns. Strategy: a route to continuing Power in significant markets.” — 7 Powers
- Define a vision (3–5+ years)
- Define a strategy (1–3 years)
- Define objectives to achieve it (1 quarter to 1 year approximately)
The fourth unlock – an accelerant for your Product Strategy
An unlock is the discovery of an accelerant for the brand, product, or service invisible in plain sight. The mould on cheese curing disease was a substantial unlock (penicillin). So is administering a small dose of a pathogen to immunize someone from the complete, more harmful pathogen (vaccines).
In the last 20 years, there have been three unlocks in the business world (Temples: Apple / Monogamy: Amazon / Empire Strikes Back: Walmart) that have created over $500 billion in shareholder value. Amazon may have just announced the fourth.