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Secrets of a Product Strategist

Posted by Amy Wilson on September 23, 2009

I spent several years working at customer sites on product implementations, then many more years developing products and managing teams that developed products, and more recently, a bunch of years crafting product strategy vision and managing a team of product strategists.  Over this time, and as a result of these varying perspectives, I have cultivated what I consider to be a rather successful product strategy methodology.   I must caveat that this methodology may not work for everyone as I do believe everyone is different (as my Gallup strength of individualization would suggest).  With that, here are my secrets:

1.  Find amazing customers to work with

2.  Listen to them.  Develop the skill of teasing out their stories.  Fully understand and document their hopes and dreams.

3.  Find as many opportunities for the product team to hear these stories as possible.  Make sure they are hearing the stories directly for maximum impact.

4.  Look for patterns, connect seemingly disparate ideas, filter and prioritize.

5.  Craft a vision, including obvious and not-so-obvious patterns.  Sometimes this is a grand vision that covers a whole release and sometimes it is a smaller “aha” that can make a big impact.

6.  Socialize the vision with excitement, drawing on the stories the product team has already heard.

7.  Don’t get frustrated when your idea doesn’t get built.  Be amazed when it does!

8.  Thank the product team until you cry.

photo credit: Natual History Museum’s Darwin – Big idea big exhibition.

3 Responses to “Secrets of a Product Strategist”

  1. Meg Bear said

    items 4 and 5 are seriously helped when you have real talent as well. I guess you forgot to mention that part of your Gallup Strengths ;-). I must say Amy, the items 3,6 and 8 also help to make your development teams love you.


  2. Amy Wilson said

    Thanks Meg (sob sob)

  3. […] sure you validate your market before you start.  This is easiest when you have experienced strategists but if you don’t, do your own homework.  Spending any amount time on something people […]

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