(2020-02-19) Cagan Product Strategy Insights

Martin Cagan on Product Strategy - Insights. the most difficult, aspect of product strategy, which is to generate, identify and leverage the insights that will provide the foundation of the product strategy

product strategy requires real effort and thought:

in every single case I know of, including every instance where I was able to contribute to the product strategy myself, this never happens without real preparation.

there are four consistently effective and valuable sources of insights, and strong product leaders spend much of their waking hours contemplating these:

Quantitative Insights

You might have a theory about which customers respond best to your product, so you run an analysis

Often, you will get an idea about the data, and you’ll have to construct a test to obtain the specific data you need. This is normal, and the sooner your organization gets good at running these sorts of live-data tests, the better your chance of lasting success

The key is to know enough to spot this learning, and then leverage this learning into meaningful action.

Qualitative Insights

why I’m such a fan of having strong user researchers in the organization. Mostly the insights they generate are qualitative and therefore not “statistically significant,” but don’t let that fool you – qualitative insights are often profound, and can literally change the course of your company

The user research community generally breaks down insights into two types. The first is evaluative which essentially means, what did we learn from testing out this new product idea? Did it work or not, and if not, why not? The second type of insights are generative. This means, did we uncover any new opportunities that we weren’t pursuing, but maybe we should be?

This is actually the source of a very common confusion in product teams. For the most part, in product discovery, our learning is evaluative

But anytime we interact with users and customers, we have a chance to learn more about them, and sometimes we discover even bigger opportunities than the ones we’re looking into at the moment. Even if they love the new thing we’re testing out, we may realize there is an even bigger opportunity if we’re open to it. This is an example of a generative insight.

Technology Insights

The enabling technologies are constantly changing, and occasionally a technology comes along that allows us to solve long-standing problems in new, just-now-possible ways.

Industry Insights

major industry trends, insights in other industries that may pertain to your industry, and insights from similar markets in other regions of the world.

Shared Learnings

half the battle, especially in larger organizations, is getting the relevant insights into the right minds at the right time.

The product leader or design leader is often the first person to “connect the dots” between learnings of different teams, and see real opportunities

The key is to make sure these learnings, whether they are coming from the data, customer visits, enabling technology, industry analysis, or any other source, make it to the product leaders.

One practice that I have long advocated is that the head of product should be aggregating the key learnings and insights from all the different teams in her areas, and at the weekly or bi-weekly all-hands, she should be summarizing the most important of these learnings and sharing with the broader organization.

At this point, we have focused on a small number of truly important problems (bottleneck) for the business, and we have identified what we believe are the linchpins for moving the needle for those problems. Now we’re ready to turn those insights into actions...


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