Mar 02, 2021 | by Budi Tanrim
Product design leadership — Strategic focus
One of the design managers shared her frustration.
She worked on a feature.
The outcome wasn’t great.
The team moves on. Then they built another feature. The same story repeats.
It could have been better if the team ask why and learned from it. So they can form a hypothesis to improve or pivot based on the knowledge they have. If the team doesn’t follow through with the learning, the product discovery will never produce an innovative outcome. But this is impossible without strategic focus.
If you ever been in this situation, here’s the question: How many objectives does your product team have? If the answer is more than three initiatives or objectives in a quarter, your team probably doesn’t have the strategic focus. Don’t be surprised. Some teams have 20+ objectives they’re pursuing.
When the team has five or ten initiatives, they will be in the mode of Let’s try out everything and wish for the best. Who knows, any one of the initiatives can produce the desired outcome. Without the strategic focus, your team doesn’t know what the most impactful thing to work on. That’s why they hesitate to keep digging on the same hole. They rather move on to the next initiative on the list. Starting a fresh one.
One of my best memory was when I worked with one of the product managers back then at Shopify. I was naive because I wanted to fix all the * low-hanging fruits.* I keep suggesting a few things to him. “That’s a great suggestion,” he said, “but not now.”
Focusing meaning your team picks a few items that will make a significant impact. Essentially, you have to say no to dozens of potential good opportunities, which is hard. There’s no workshop or anything to cure this. Really, it’s just a conversation you need to have with the other leaders in the team or the company. Discuss these questions:
- What are the three most important things we should be working on?
- Why those three? Any insights, industry trends, market conditions, or data that inform this?
- Which product should we kill to allocate the resource on something more impactful?
Pick your battles, good luck!