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Product Strategy to lean value slice

A good product strategy is a perfect balance of growing a product that your customers love while sustaining a profitable business. Companies that mastered this art have captured the majority of the market share,while many companies are striving steadily to get there. Depending on the current state and goals of the company, the strategy might look different with a varied balance of business and customer sustainability. So once you have a product strategy that best reflects your company’s needs, the next biggest challenge is how to get started and break it down to lean slices of value that can be released to the market quickly for early feedback. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Prioritize the problem or opportunity space

The first step towards getting started is identifying the problem space that you want to focus on to achieve your strategic goals. A strategic goal can be achieved by addressing multiple opportunities or problem spaces. If there are multiple product teams, each team can focus on their specific problem areas. Or, if you are the only product team in a small org, prioritize which problem space to focus on first. There are many frameworks you could use for this prioritization like DVF or BRICE or pick any frameworks that best suits your product context. Use the frameworks as a guide to pick a problem space to focus on.

Rediscover the problem space and opportunity

Once you have narrowed down the problem focus area, deep dive into understanding the problem space better. Understand the current state, ask enough questions or dig up enough data to really understand where the pain and gaps are and why it’s critical to address them. One of the key inputs to this problem space discovery is customer’s voice and feedback, and understanding of how it's impacting business. As products grow, it becomes more common that customers turn into a data number on your analytics dash. And most times it’s hard and wrong to derive conclusions by just looking at numbers. Find ways to really hear what your customers have to say by figuring out ways to reconnect with them. Interviews, observability tests, product reviews, customer support calls, etc are some of the ways to hear what your customers have to say. Gather all the right qualitative and quantitative data to understand the problem space as best as you can.

Identify lean scope of customer value

Once you have really explored the problem space well enough and mapped all the major pain points, you can reimagine the future state that alleviates the problems that your customers are facing, or addresses an unexplored opportunity. When you have a high level new user journey identified, take a pause and look at options to make a lean version of the same. Having a lean value mindset is critical to achieve product market fit with minimal and steady investment. What do the customers value the most or what impact do we want to achieve by shipping this? Can we really go leaner and still be able to get early feedback or evaluate the impact? Can we slice the scope and measure one leading indicator outcome at a time?What is the solution cost and time? The answer to all that might be your first lean value slice.Once all these factors are considered in the mix, you should have a lean slice to get started on.

Pilot user cohort for early validation

Once you have a lean slice identified, the next critical step is identifying the right target customer group or a small subset. For this, you need to have a clear understanding of your customer base. Who are the different cohorts? What do they want to achieve with your product or their relation to the problem space you are exploring? The common mistake is simply going by demographic or high level persona template info. Instead, really understand the different user groups, their jobs to be done and how big or small they represent in your total customer base. With this info, you can identify a small target group or a subset to test your lean value slice. Lean value slice should always be tested with a small cohort first to understand the fit before it's rolled out to the masses. In some product discovery cases, you can also start with identifying the user cohort as the first step and then figuring a lean slice of feature for those users.

Lean value, the right way to release

The final step that’s critical to lean value experiment success is finding the right place in the user journey to fit this into, specially for the target users. It’s important that the customers are aware and are  able to easily discover this new value slice to try it themselves. This lean value discoverability can either be achieved by a good product design or by marketing communications that helps the customer discover the new value. The key is ensuring the customers are aware and are able to easily understand the lean slice of the feature, so they can give us the verdict.

So, now that you have the framework to create your lean slice, roll it out to the small pilot user cohort and don’t forget to listen for customer feedback and measure the success before scaling.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.