Here is a clear path that I’ve been thinking about lately as way to visualize what, in a simple form, I think gets us to successful products… let’s take a long walk.
Product level execution | Taking a walk analogy
- Vision | A vision of a better future, we can see ourselves standing there sweaty, spent, and fulfilled at the end of our long journey, maybe on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean.
- Objectives | Plan ahead some landmarks/milestones that guide us in planning and inspire us when we are tired to reach our envisioned destination. “When we reach this big rock, we will be halfway.” or “Are we there yet? We are just about halfway, let’s keep going.”
- Product discovery | Evaluate as many possible paths as you can. What big risks do we need avoid? Where can we follow the treaded-path for an easier walk and where do we need to bushwhack?
- Prototype | Scout as many possible paths as you can. What do we need to learn and can learn by sending out some fast and inexpensive scouting parties?
- Product strategy | Choose the best path to walk avoiding dangers and utilizing advantageous ground. It’s only after we have all the information we can solidify our planned route to inform the next step.
- Product delivery | Walk the path at a sustainable pace, it’s a long journey. Have your compass out, your eyes open, and all senses on alert.
- Product Market Fit assessment| (while walking) Did we choose the best path to our objectives? What have we learned by walking? Where were we right/wrong about the world and what has changed? Is this path muddier than expected? What/when can we update our path (with a bias to ASAP)?
A bit of a disclaimer about the ordered list. Aspects of each of these may overlap, but the order is when we get clear enough to use that information to inform the next step.
Also, obviously a lot happens in that last step which is concurrent with walking the path. The points of calling this out are: 1/ stop walking if we got something wrong and 2/ walk a path optimized to focus on learning. Because we know we won’t get it right and success depends on our resilience and ability to adjust as we go. Hopefully, before we start walking a lot of similar questions are asked as well (learning as we plan).
That said, the main point here is to visualize the product development path as a long walk, in order to help solidify the role of these steps in successfully reaching our envisioned destination.