How effective goal setting provides focus in product strategy

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Achieving change from one state to another in life involves focus and energy. This is true whether you are trying to shift those 'extra pounds' picked up in lockdown before seeing people again or changing your customer's behaviour to come with you on your journey of digital transformation. Applying energy without focus in ways that do not contribute to the goal, results in waste and sometimes failure. Personally, that may cause frustration and loss of morale, professionally, it can be costly not only to your opportunity but maybe to your business.

If you’ve blown your budget on an exquisite home page but your customers cannot work out how to complete their transaction for the goods that they need, those customers will be under-served. Whilst they were attracted to your proposition due to that 'rock star' landing page, being unable to complete the task they set out to do will alter their view of the value they get from your marketplace. This will in turn create challenges in retaining these customers and getting repeat business.

Understanding how the needs and capabilities of your business overlaps with the needs of your existing or potential customers is vital for the success of your product.

At its rawest state, your product is solving your customer’s needs in a way that is more efficient for them than how they are currently solving them. This represents value to them, some of which they will be willing to sacrifice for the ability to use your product, which in turn represents value to your business.

Achieving Focus

Finding ways to articulate and communicate a shared understanding of the goals for your business by serving the goals of your customers is a vital set of skills for any product manager. Many frameworks exist for both, and each have their strengths and drawbacks. But there are common qualities.

GOAL or OBJECTIVE: A clear measurable statement that represents the desired end state to those working towards it

QUALITATIVE CONSTRAINTS: How we will measure progress against the goal and know how far we are from the goal

At NovaFori, we work with our customers to first understand their mission statement or 'vision' for their marketplace. This acts as a 'North Star' to provide an indication of the direction of travel and provides a broad long-term focus to further decision making.

Visions can rarely be realised in one step and shorter planning cycles are needed to focus operational and technical teams to achieve the desired outcome. Breaking down your vision into objectives that provide narrower focus allows us to work with our customers to take incremental steps towards their vision.

At a business level you may see these represented by ‘Objectives and Key Results’ (OKRs) or ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPIs). At a customer level this might be in the form of a ‘User-Story’ or ‘Jobs To Be Done’.

Hypothesise then measure

As we adapt to a life influenced by COVID, predicting outcomes can be difficult, so we use data to help validate that what we thought would happen, did indeed happen, or if it didn't, what might we do to get back on track. So instead of looking at immutable features to build, we look to the creation and validation of Hypotheses.

Understanding your current state and the desired future state, and then working out the first small step you can take to get incrementally towards that end state. Then after taking that step, measuring whether what you expected to happen, happened, and making any course adjustments you need to for the next step. Repeat until the hypotheses is validated or invalidated and a new hypotheses created.

Happy accidents happen when we are innovating and creating something new that has never existed before. But they are rare. Achieving behaviour change can be hard. So to increase the chance of your product delivering the value that is expected to your customers and business, whilst minimising risk and waste, you need clear and measurable goals. By continually measuring your progress towards those goals as new information emerges and adjusting the plan accordingly where necessary, creates the best conditions for success.

Like losing one pound at a time by experimenting with the fitness and diet program that works for you. Or moving your traditional markets online by targeting your customer segments most receptive to behaviour change, success is best achieved with focus and energy.

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