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Product Strategy

Strategy is not what you say you will do. It is what you actually do.

And Product Strategy is defined by the product programmes that you put money into.

Successful new products rely on innovation and innovation is often driven by technology. So to be successful, a company should have strategies for technology, innovation and new products in place and these should all be aligned.

However any strategy is just pie in the sky unless it has resources attached to it.

So Company Strategy is about how you will deploy your resources in order to achieve your goal. And as pretty well every company exists to sell products (or services) in a market, Company Strategy is about deciding which technologies & innovations, products and markets to spend money on, which is exactly the same as Product Strategy at its highest level. In other words Company Strategy and Product Strategy are the same thing.

Thus deciding how much money to invest in new products for old markets v how much to invest in old products for new markets (and any combination of these), and how much risk to take in doing so, and what type of products these should be are all part of Product and hence Company Strategy.

In fact in the best companies the Chief Executive Officer, could be renamed the Chief Product Officer, because that is what he really is. Steve Jobs at Apple was the classic example of recent times. Henry Ford was the classic example of the early 20th century.

And if you don't do what you say, i.e. if you don't invest enough money to make the new products that your stated strategy requires, then you haven't got a strategy, you have a pipedream instead.

Plus if you don't match your strategy to your vision and product programme to your strategy, you won't get to where you wanted to go. Of course if you did not know where you wanted to go anyway, then it maybe doesn't matter, as long as you have a pleasant journey and avoid falling down a hole.

Stages in Strategic Management

Vision

Vision is about knowing where you want to go. Company Strategy is about how you are going to get there (and Tactics is about what you will do on the way to optimise your journey.) Thus if you want your strategy to be successful, you really need to have a Vision or Goal, so that you know where you want to go, e.g. Be No.1, as measured by market share, for electric passenger vehicles in the UK in 5 year's time.

Analysis

The next step is to analyse what the current position is for your own company and the industry in whatever depth you think is necessary (the Current State), and have a go at at what you think the industry will look like in that timescale and what your position will be, e.g. major competitors, market size, product types and prices, regulations etc. (The Future State). You should also try to predict what will be required to achieve that position, and the associated risks, and do a gap analysis compared to your present capabilities, e.g. technology, production capacity, supplier capabilities, resources required (human, financial and other).

In doing the analysis, you may find that you need to make some adjustments to the strategy, or even the vision

Plan

Now that you have a more detailed assessment of where you are and where you need to be and the gaps between the two positions, then you can put a plan together to get you from the Current State to the Future State. This can be in whatever level of detail you think is appropriate, but typically it would start out at a high level and then be fleshed out with more detail. It should probably be split into a Product Plan, a Technology Plan, a Manufacturing Plan, a Resources Plan, a Financial Plan etc

Once again you may find that you have to go round the loop more than once before you have a coherent set of plans that are likely to work.

Implementation

Then you have to implement the plans

Evaluation

You should evaluate how well you are doing in achieving the strategy, not just at the end of the period, but as you go along at regular intervals. To do this you need to have developed some key indicators that will be a reasonably reliable measure and some intermediate targets, against which your progress can be checked.

Adjust

If thinks are not going to plan, then you need to make some adjustments, or even major changes to try to get back on track. If you are too far of beam, then you may need to consider reviewing the whole strategy and starting again, especially if the world has changed around you, or it turns out that your original plans were just way too ambitious.

At Elite Consulting we can help you clarify your thinking and connect your product strategy to your company strategy and your vision.

And here are some techniques and thoughts that may help you along the way.

Porter's 5 Forces

Michael Porter is probably the late 20th century's foremost business strategy guru.

For more info go here.

Lanchester Strategy

Lanchester's thinking on military strategy has been adapted to commercial uses, particularly by the Japanese.

For more info go here.

Balanced Scorecard

Kaplan's thinking on how to connect different strands together.

For more info go here.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Aren't all oceans blue?

For more info go here.

White Space Strategy

Different colour, but the same idea.

For more info go here.

Roadmaps

To show you the way.

For more info go here.

Strategy Implementation (Policy Deployment or 'Hoshin Kanri')

A Japanese method of implementing policies, (strategy), that is gaining more and more favour.

See more here.

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