Mathew Cropper

March 4, 2021

Product strategy and the time poor PM

Originally published: July 23, 2020

This week I spoke at Product School, sharing my advice for Product Managers who have problems defining their product direction and making decisions, but have struggled to find the time to invest in strategy work. I share what's worked for me, as well as the tools and principles I use to guide me.

If you're looking for the TL;DR, here it is.

  • If you have problems prioritising the things you should build, or aren't sure what things are valuable to your customers and business, you have a strategy problem.
  • You don't just go straight into building a strategy. You need to have a solid, detailed understanding of your customers, business, and product(s) first.
  • Many PMs never do that research because they think they don't have time. There's a misconception that you need to dedicate weeks of focused effort to the task.
  • Instead, work with the time you have. If you have a couple of hours a week, dedicate it to that work. Slow progress is better than no progress.
  • Adopt a continuous discovery approach using a working doc (which I go through in the talk). Be patient.
  • Bring your learnings together and document them in a way that makes future decision making easy.
  • And keep doing it. Over and over.

Of course, that's the very, very abridged version. Check out the video for a more detailed discussion, and let me know what you think 😉

The four fundamental aspects of building a strategy. Don't neglect 1 and 2.

Use a messy working document to explore and collaborate.

Answer hard questions. Build a really solid foundational understanding.