Five ways a CEO can lead product strategy through to execution

by | Apr 15, 2021

Most companies don’t lack for good ideas for improving customers’ experiences and satisfaction with their digital products or services. But often there are hurdles, communication errors, and other obstacles that block the translation of those ideas into successful implementations of product strategy.

As a leader, how can you ensure that your product reaches the finish line successfully?

Here are five ways CEOs and other leaders can ensure their strategies are driven through to successful execution.

Let nothing come between you and your customer – including your company

Many companies rely on internal team members to serve as internal translators of their customer’s needs and pain points. Whether that be salespeople or marketers or even founders and executives – yes, any number of these employee groups can gather great insight. However, nothing can substitute the direct feedback from your customers and prospects on their ever-changing needs.

According to research from Salesforce, 63% of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same thing.

Conducting regular surveys and interviews is a good place to start. Make sure to address both general pain points and needs and specific queries regarding your products and the competition. In doing this, you equip your product and technology teams with key insights that feed the product implementation roadmap.

One especially useful approach is to seek understanding about all customers’ workflow, or what some marketers might call the customer or buying journey. What do they do just before, during and after they use your product? This helps you understand why customers make the choices they do – which is key to product innovation.

Present a clear and focused product strategy

Once you’ve identified and understood your customers’ needs and pain points, it’s time to distill a strategy with a clear, realistic number of elements. Stick to half a dozen or less – anything more than that will likely result in your company’s efforts being too divided and scattershot to drive the results you are looking for.

It is often best to start with a positioning statement that aligns the idea with business goals, measured by key performance indicators (KPIs). Then make sure the product team aligns every feature to support that positioning statement and its goals.

Separate the product from the technology

There are a number of popular phrases in the technology world that can lead people to think that speed is the way to product quality. Words such as “agile,” “nimble” and “failing fast” may be applicable in some instances, but may cause more harm than good. As a result, we often see leaders trying to be “agile” but end up throwing money and resources into concepts that are half-baked, ineffective or too expensive to do well quickly.

Make sure your product team first tests the concept, then builds the technology later.

Keep in mind that the technology is not the end result – it’s what the technology makes possible for the end customer that establishes the need for your product!

Think about what you are trying to do and use as few technology resources as possible to get it in front of your customer. Once you start to see engagement, then build the technology.

Manage your product team’s priorities

Once you have your customer pain points identified and a focused product strategy, it’s important to stay focused. In fact, the most important thing you can do for your product organization at this time is to help them manage priorities and remain focused on the core problem.

Avoid being distracted by “shiny objects” – those enticing things technology vendors promise, or competitors may be trying, but have little relevance to your own strategy.

Be brutal about eliminating non-performing products. In short, keeping people in the product organization from feeling they are constantly taking on new initiatives without offloading other, less important tasks is one of the most important things a CEO can do.

Ensure stakeholder collaboration

Does your organization’s product team operate in a silo? Do your marketing and sales leaders participate in product ideation? Do they feel involved in the process and bought in to the results? If you see aspects of silo behavior it is important to encourage cross-functional stakeholder engagement.

Interested in product strategy and execution? Here are some additional insights from our team that you may find helpful:

Of course, you can always let us know if you’d like to set up a chat.

Author Spotlight

Len Gilbert


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