(2020-02-18) Cagan Product Strategy Focus

Martin Cagan on Product Strategy - Focus. The importance of truly “picking your battles” as an organization.

picking the few things that can truly make an impact

in pretty much every company I meet, the leaders already believe they are reasonably good at focus. But often the company’s leaders need a reality check on this topic.

The sheer number of things they believe are critically important, and that need to happen this quarter, or this year, are often an order of magnitude too many – I mean that literally. Instead of 2-3 truly important things, they have at least 20-30.

In large part this is a reflection of the leaders feeling the need to place a lot of bets, versus the best or most impactful bets... (ThinkingInBets)

prioritizing, but not focusing... It is easy to generate work with this approach, but not results (Prioritize)

I learned this early in my career, this lesson was etched in my mind, and I’ve found that this principle applies in so many aspects of a technology business.

We were working on fairly low-level systems software, which at the time, and still is the case today with certain types of products, performance is key

while pretty much the entire code base could be improved, the vast majority of this effort would not matter in the least

He pointed out that in most organizations, they tell everyone that “performance is important” and so every team works a little on performance, but the vast majority of that work makes absolutely no difference, and in the few places where it could make a difference, it gets too little concentrated attention.

By not “picking your battles” and focusing on the few truly critical problems, most of the work going on does not make an impact, and for the truly critical priorities, there is not enough attention to actually move the needle.

Every good product strategy begins with this focus: “Good strategy works by focusing energy and resources on one, or a very few, pivotal objectives whose accomplishment will lead to a cascade of favorable outcomes.” –Richard Rumelt

If the leaders are not willing or able to make these choices, then the product strategy is doomed from the start.


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