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Product Strategy Facilitation: A Solution to the Product Strategy Challenge?

Could embedding product strategy facilitation be the answer to your bandwidth and expertise challenges?

Demands on product teams are relentless. From defining strategies to generating new ideas, managing priorities, fixing live issues and managing stakeholders, amongst many other tasks, product teams are stretched in multiple directions.

With a heavy workload, product strategy is becoming one of the biggest challenges for many teams (as illustrated by Product Board’s research). Whilst we know that with the right product strategy the team is able to focus on delivering value to the business and customers. We also know that without a strategy or one that is unclear, opportunities are missed, the wrong product is delivered and the team ends up flipping and flapping to the beat of today’s priority.

Strategy obstacles

Obstacles that are contributing to these challenges exist all around product teams and can include having:

  • Lots of ideas (from the team, stakeholders and customers), but a lack of time, tools or approach to help sift through the noise and create a set of focused product priorities
  • Real-time product demands that mean the focus is always on firefighting, leaving no time to pause for breath, and create that product strategy
  • A new and fairly inexperienced team that does not have the expertise or bandwidth to create timely product strategies
  • The ability to create product strategies, but a lack of stakeholder alignment that leads to continuous changes in direction and re-prioritisation

An extra pair of hands to get product strategy done

Multi-tasking product person

Given these impediments, what if you had an extra pair of expert hands, working side-by-side with you, to quickly create a clear and executable product strategy that is aligned with your stakeholders and the business and product goals?

Not a pair of hands that turn up, produce a report and then leaves, or joins does the job and leaves with all the tacit knowledge that has been captured (and not shared). No, a pair of hands that collaboratively works with you, providing expertise, facilitation, tools and dedicated bandwidth to quickly create an executable strategy.

Enter product strategy facilitation …

Product strategy facilitation coverage

Whether working on a new initiative or managing an existing product, product strategy facilitation creates a collaborative situation that combines your know-how with a product and facilitation expert who works with you through every step of the journey. It provides:

  • Dedicated support and enablement that ensures the right choices are being made
  • Facilitation expertise that affords guidance from start to finish
  • A customisable toolkit that can be quickly adapted to meet the teams needs
  • An external voice that objectively asks tough questions and provides a different and fresh perspective

Ultimately, product strategy facilitation provides an extra pair of expert hands that helps you get to the right product strategy. It’s a short-term injection of expertise that saves time and ensures your resources are being effectively utilised. Also, by virtue of its facilitation focus, ownership of the product strategy remains with the product lead/team during and after.

Product strategy facilitation activities

Using a logical, but adaptable, set of activities, product strategy facilitation covers:

  • Context: definition, clarification and capture of the drivers and business goals
  • Insights: analysis of existing data and sourcing new insights (if required) to support the future direction
  • Research: user research and discovery to understand their needs and pain points (if required)
  • Strategy development: a facilitated workshop (see example board below) to align stakeholders and define the future product strategy (incl. what will be excluded/left for later)
Example Product Strategy Facilitation Workshop Activities
  • Strategy write-up: a product strategy canvas, roadmap and digestible version of the key strategy development takeaways

As a bonus, during the workshop, having a facilitator will enable the product lead to sit on the right side of the table, where they can focus on driving the strategy and not trying to play a dual role of lead and contributor.

The facilitation difference

Working collaboratively with the product team, product strategy facilitation enables you to move quickly by combining internal know-how with dedicated product management expertise.

What’s more, it’s worth noting that product strategy facilitation is not focused on teaching or doing all the work – the former is typically completed away from the work and does not get the job done when you need it done, while the latter removes ownership and knowledge from the team – it’s about facilitating your success.

Ready, steady, execute

At the end of the product strategy facilitation process, you will have an executable strategy based on customer and business insights. With this in hand you’ll be ready to execute your strategy and or seek final approval from key stakeholders.

That’s it, the role of product strategy facilitator outlined. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or DM me.