It is that time of the year when we all grab a piece of paper and pencil to make a bulleted list of almost impossible goals for the next 12-month period ahead.
Inarguably, this has been part of our culture when it comes to New Year’s resolutions and their rituals, and somehow it makes us feel full of breath and more engaged while resetting all that we’ve been through in the past year. It also adds a lot of hopefulness and fuels our minds, especially in times like these when we’ve been struggling with the pandemic.
Interestingly, we do pretty much the same when it comes to corporate goals, right? An empty canvas is ready for us to draft goals, objectives, and milestones to be pursued.
This is a list I thought would be useful for digital product colleagues who are somehow tied to the strategy for the next 12 months. It is intended to point toward an execution-driven plan rather than an ideation exercise. As a digital product person, it helps me to establish a very clear path to overcome the daily challenges when it comes to product management.
I’m sure these activities are not new for some people, but they will certainly help to define initial steps for the year.
1. Establish your goals (if this is still pending; the year has started, after all)
This is a basic step but certainly the starting point for a goal-driven year. Although this may sound too obvious, it should be emphasised as the very first step of a resolutions list.
Remember that goals should be aligned with corporate strategy needs. Ideally, your product goals should address corporate’s goals such as subscriptions growth, churn prediction, or conquering new audience segments, for example. Product strategy must be tied to that.
The main objective here is to come up with a straightforward way to align, engage, and focus on what matters from a corporate and product strategy perspective, regardless of the chosen technology or methodology. I personally like the objectives and key results (OKR) framework, as this clarifies the objectives while engaging a group of people to focus and execute on those goals.
Use whatever framework works giving the context of your company: Excel, OKR, Google Sheets, SMART goals, etc. An online and collaborative tool will facilitate the daily routine, as it allows your colleagues to interact and be more engaged.
2. Spend more time understanding your users
Get crystal clear on the changes you want to anticipate.
I’m particularly involved in getting a deeper understanding of audience motivation for getting informed through digital news. Ultimately, I want to discover the reasons why they would pay for it. It’s a multi-million-dollar question, right? That is why I’m addicted to getting valuable insights directly from the audience.
A quick example and maybe a provocation could be Scott Galloway’s predictions, which are pretty accurate for tech trends. One of them is betting against Metaverse success. If he is right, your digital strategy will be impacted somehow. But the question is, in what way?
That is why you should get a deeper understanding of your audience’s behaviours and visualise the possibilities, if any. Anticipate what comes ahead and make sure you have the right tools and strategy set up to face whatever is new.
It’s important to note that, while interviewing users, they will say unfavourable things about your product. That is when you know you are on the right path to getting valuable insights.
3. Revisit your user’s journey
Do you know how does your audience interacts with your product? You should.
In summary, a user journey represents a sequence of events or experiences a user might encounter while using a product or service. Although this one sounds a bit similar to the previous goal, they’re complementary when it comes to a truly customer-centric approach exercise.
Considering a digital product strategy, mapping how the audience interacts with the product itself identifies opportunities for improvement. It also highlights if the proposed value initially thought by the company is being perceived by the users on their part. Here are two mapping tools that might assist with this exercise.
Consider a user experience team as the leader to conduct the exercise. These people should be more focused on the customer than most of the other teams.
You will be amazed by the number of insightful findings this exercise will generate.
4. Review your product’s value proposition
Ask yourself: When we last time you truly did this?
In today’s world, there is a quote that synthesises the start-up way of thinking about products: “To innovate, you should solve a problem.”
With that in mind, it is mandatory for us as product professionals to ask if our product is solving a problem or addressing a recognised need for the user. If not, there are high chances that the audience will not become subscribers. They don’t see the value.
Because of that, I encourage you to simply revisit the value proposition of your company. It turns out, it might reflect what the company is offering when it comes to value. But the tricky question here is if the customers are perceiving the value and having their problems solved by using your product or service.
Don’t be sad if it is outdated. Make sure you understand the users profoundly so that the value proposition transforms their needs into a compelling message.
Now, take the next step
Although this is a list of ideas, I hope it can help you begin executing on them. I truly believe these resolutions will positively impact product people’s routines if they resonate with your company’s goals. If not, hopefully some of the resolutions can inspire you in another direction that sounds more reasonable for your business context.
As Steve Jobs once said: “Ideas are worth nothing unless executed.” So, focus on the execution rather than the ideation process.