Products Delivery Strategy!
Peter Monkhouse | October 7, 2021
Read time: 10 minutes
Strategies are helping organizations fulfil their visions and facilitate working through their missions. Strategies are easy to plan but hard to execute, as our experience reminds us of all the time.
Today organizations are facing numerous challenges, and I will talk about two of them:
New technologies are being introduced constantly. Technology allows an organization to add new features to their products to deliver more value to their customers, improve the efficiency of manufacturing products, and improve the customer experience. At the same time, technology is used as a disruptor in the market by new competitors. Think about the impact Uber has had on the taxi industry or digital photography has had on the photographic industry.
This challenge is a derivative of the technology challenge as the world becomes so easy to navigate virtually. This is both good news and bad news. The good news is it has never been easier to sell your products to customers anywhere in the world. All you need is a website. Organizations such as Amazon and Shopify make it easy to sell your products on the web and collect payment. Of course, the bad news is it has never been easier for your competitors to sell their products to your customers. Location is no longer a differentiator or feature. Customer experience and ease of use have become core differentiators.
To address these and other challenges, there have been lots of articles written about how organizations need to transform, increase their business agility and become more resilient. But is this the only solution? I think not. Organizations still need to have a great strategy and be able to implement their strategy. I agree that to implement a strategy, an organization may have to transform itself and increase their business agility. But how do we connect the strategy with the customer's needs? The answer is through products.
To illustrate the linkage between strategy and products, in the book I co-authored with Joanna Tivig, Gen P: New Generation of Product Owners Who Care About Customers, we introduced the Strategy Implementation Circle.
The Strategy Implementation Circle consists of seven steps that should be continuously done to ensure effective strategy implementation. You start with the strategy itself. Once the strategy is created, then you create strategic objectives that lead to strategic initiatives or projects by any other name. Projects will create products that deliver value to customers. Customers provide feedback that allows the organizations to realize benefits. When an organization realizes benefits, it will show whether the strategy is working or not, and it can update the strategy and the circle repeats. Let us dive deeper into each step.
The Strategy Implementation Circle starts with the organization's strategy. Most organizations are pretty good at developing their strategy. If not, there are many consultants who can help. A strategy can be developed using several approaches, ranging from SWOT analysis, Blue Ocean, Playing to Win, Scenario Thinking, Porter's Five Forces, to name a few. In my opinion, it does not matter which approach is used. The key is to ensure that the organization has a mission and vision that it believes in and can focus its efforts upon.
Once the strategy is created, the next step is to create strategic objectives. Strategic objectives are typically used to set the direction for organizations for the next three to five years. Effective strategic objectives should be SMART. The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. While each one of these attributes is important, to achieve a strategy, you need measurable objectives. You need to be able to tell if you are making progress on achieving the strategic objectives.
The next step is to create the product, goods, or services that will allow you to achieve your strategic objectives. These are often called strategic initiatives or projects by any other name. It is important to select the right product in which to invest. You need to select the products that will deliver value to your customers and positively impact the metrics you have selected for your strategic objectives. However, it is not only about selecting the right projects. Organizations also need to be able to execute the project to create the product. This involves ensuring the correct project approach is used to create the product, having the right people on the project team and having the organization's support to ensure the project is successful.
A completed project delivers a product. The product can be directly delivered to a customer or operations for manufacturing. Remember, a product, which includes goods or services, is not only about the product's features. It includes the entire customer experience. The customer experience starts with the potential customer learning about the product, purchasing the product, using the product, and ultimately disposing of the product. This can apply to external or internal customers who are using the product. One of the important considerations is to ensure there is a way to collect feedback from customers.
When a customer receives value from a product, good things happen. They buy your product. They tell their friends to buy your products. This will allow the organization to realize benefits and thus achieve the strategic objectives. To realize benefits, you need to have appropriate metrics and hence be able to measure if the strategic objectives are being realized. Once you have these metrics, you can determine the next steps. If the strategic objectives are being achieved, then you need to update the strategic objectives further to ensure the organization continues its journey to achieving its strategy. If the strategic objectives are not being met, this is also important. You need to figure out why. Is this the wrong product, a product that is not delivering value or enough value? Has the market changed? Is there a technology disrupter? Has a competitor introduced a new feature? Has the customer's "job to be done" changed, and consequently, the customer no longer values your product? Whatever the reason, finding this early and then updating the strategy and the product is key for an organization to succeed.
Feedback is the key to complete the Strategy Implementation Circle. It is through customer feedback that you can determine if the product is delivering value to your customer. Positive feedback is great. It shows you are delivering value to your customer. But, negative feedback is also good. If you are not delivering value, you can stop any further investment in the product and regroup. This could include adding additional features to the product or even starting again with a new product. Besides letting you know if you are delivering value to customers, feedback can give you insight into what additional features are important to your customers that can add more value.
With the measurement of progress on the strategy, you can respond and update the strategy and repeat the Strategy Implementation Circle. In today's world, it is important to go through the Strategy Implementation Circle as quickly as possible. Use the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to get rapid feedback. If your product is not delivering value to your customers, then adjust product features or the strategy.
To support the Strategy Implementation Circle, organizations should use the iterative product development approach. This approach is based on the MVP concept to quickly get to market and continuously deliver incremental improvements that add additional value to your customers over time. As important as it is to deliver value, it is even more important to collect feedback. Through this feedback mechanism, you can determine the next step for your product and for your organization to achieve its strategy.
To learn more about the Strategy Implementation Circle and the Iterative Product Development Approach, please see Gen P: New Generation of Product Owners Who Care About Customers or visit www.newgenp.com.
About the Author
Peter Monkhouse is co-founder of NewGenP, an organization providing training, consulting and thought leadership in product management and ownership. He was a Sessional Instructor at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University and was Chair of the Project Management Institute (PMI) Board of Directors.