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Product Strategy: OKRs vs. Roadmap, Which are better?
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Product Strategy: OKRs vs. Roadmap, Which are better?

Product Strategy: OKRs vs. Roadmap, Which are better?

Building Great Products
August 8, 2021
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5 Jogs
Why it matters?

Having an effective product strategy, including clear goals, planning, and alignment can have significant benefits for yourself as a product owner and for the business looking to release products users love.

Product Strategy

Product strategy is the process of defining what a company's products are, who they’re for and how to make them successful. The goal of product strategy is to build an effective, customer-focused product strategy. The primary goal of your Product Strategy is to define the vision for your product and who it's targeting. This includes defining what problem you're solving in a way that speaks to customers with potential solutions they'll find valuable or desirable. The secondary goals are to figure out where your product fits in the marketplace, how to make it profitable and the appropriate resources needed for its success.

OKRs

An OKR is a short-term goal or objective that employees set for themselves throughout the year. It's typically aligned with an individual’s job responsibilities but can also be company-wide. The key to successful OKRs is setting goals that are measurable, achievable, and challenging. An example of an OKR might be to "improve conversion rate by 50% this year." This goal would be measured with a baseline number and then the percentage increase in conversions after 12 months.

Product Roadmaps

A roadmap shows you where your business wants to go in the future. It outlines the steps that need to be taken now so that you can reach those goals down the line. The key to successful roadmaps is being flexible, being realistic, and minimizing the amount of work that needs to be done in order for your roadmap goals to take shape.

Which are better?

We have assembled some of the best content available to answer this question. In reality, every product manager and company leader will know what works best for them, but it doesn't hurt to learn from other leaders' best practices. As with all content on Joggo, we've summarized everything to save you time and help you identify where to dig in further.

The Content

Each link contains a summary produced by one of Joggo's geniuses so you can decide where to spend your time learning more

January 29, 2021
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Gibson Biddle
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Ask Gib

Have you a method for taking a product strategy and translating it into an OKR set? What are the best practices and things to avoid from your experience?

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The Summary

Pros of OKRs

  • High-level alignment across an organization
  • Provide individuals an understanding of how their work contributes to company success
  • Specific objective can be motivating for teams
  • Widely used in the industry

Cons of OKRs

  • Hard to determine how quarter over quarter performance will affect specific metrics
  • Provides a false sense of certainty in the metrics outlined
  • Can "dummy-proof" the organization and not let individuals build with freedom If you are going to leverage OKRs you can do so from your product strategy using the Strategy, Metrics and Tactics (SMT) framework. To convert the SMT framework to OKRs, need to include an estimate of the proxy metrics. Be cautious in using these estimates and their "false precision".
June 21, 2017
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Gibson Biddle
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Ask Gib

How to Run a Quarterly Product Strategy Meeting: A Board Meeting for Product

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The Summary

Goals of Meeting

  • Provide context through product strategy, tactics and metrics
  • Ensure alignment across the organization
  • Share results and learnings
  • Articulate theories and hypotheses for future experiments
  • Determine where to invest time / resources

Results of the Meeting

  • Results-focused organization against the provided metrics
  • Determine which product leaders were strong
  • Impact on product organization and company culture

Articulate the Strategy

  • Spend 30 minutes describing overall product strategy / hypotheses
  • Explain what tactics will be used to achieve strategy
  • Describe measurements used to define success
  • Reiterate the strategy each meaning

Organize the Team Into "Swim Lanes"

  • Break down larger org into smaller teams
  • Each leader will own a part of the strategy and tactics and use the metrics to keep track of the success
  • Each Swim Lane leader will present a one-pager which is a deep-dive into how their team will support the strategy

Attendees

  • Keep to less than 20
  • Sample Attendees: CEO, Head of Product (Meeting Host), Product Leader for each Swim Lane, Research / Consumer Insights Leader, Data Leader, Design Leader, Tech Leader, Tech / Design Partners from Critical Swim Lanes

Meeting Cadence

  1. Product leader presents strategy
  2. Qualitative / quantitative research and insights that impact critical results and / or multiple Swim Lanes
  3. All Swim Lane Leads present their Swim Lane. Half the time is presenting the other half is fielding questions and comments
  4. Recap of the "So-What's" (i.e., what matters) and the "Go-Do's" (i.e., action items from the meeting)

After the Meeting

  • Have a dinner or drinks to build sense of team
  • Conduct a survey of the meeting to determine efficacy
  • Share key results / insights at all-hands company meetings Effective meetings should run like a movie with conflict, debate and eventual resolution.
September 7, 2015
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Marty Cagan
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The Alternative to Roadmaps

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The Summary

Roadmaps tell the team what to do with a prioritized list of tasks. Before you present a goal, address the underlying problem

Finding Alternatives

  • In the product team model, teams figure out best ways to solve a particular business problem

Providing intent for tech companies

  • The Product Vision: holistic view of the objectives of the organization
  • The Business Objectives: specific, prioritized business objectives for each team

The OKR system

  • Tell the team what they need to accomplish and how the results will be measured 
  • Let them solve the problem

For old-style roadmaps

  • Work on highest business value item first

Benefits

  • Increases team's motivation
  • The team is not off the hook just by delivering the project, it must actually work
  • Embrace the likelihood of the initial approach not working out
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Ravi Mehta, Zainab Ghadiyali
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Reforge

The Product Strategy Stack

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The Summary

Today, companies win or lose based on the quality of their products.

The Product Strategy Stack is the logical plan to bring the company's mission into being.

  • Product strategy connects company objectives and product delivery.
  • We cannot know product goals without product strategy.

The Product Strategy Stack is used for planning and execution.

  • Tops-Down - teams work from the top down to define, plan, and align the company to an execution plan.
  • Bottoms-Up - teams work from bottom up to communicate execution status and track the progress of the product team.

The Product Strategy Stack

  1. Company Mission - defines the company's purpose.
    1. Great companies seek to align strategic initiatives to their mission.
    2. Your company mission should only change as the company's worldview changes.
  2. Company Strategy - the plan to bring your company's mission into being.
    1. Should be rigorously logical, and should account for the company's position in the market, unique strengths and risks.
    2. It must provide context for teams to define effective roadmaps/goals.
  3. Product Strategy - plan for how the product will drive its part of the company strategy.
    1. An effective product strategy cannot exist in isolation - e.g. Slack and Discord have similar products but have a vastly different company mission.
  4. Product Roadmap - how you sequence product strategy over time.
    1. Helps teams focus on long-term value creation for customers.
  5. Product Goals - the outcomes that measure strategic progress.
    1. Roadmaps and goals must be tethered to product and company strategy rather than defined in isolation.

Misconceptions of Product Strategy

  • Goals = Strategy
    • Strategy tells the team HOW they will win. The goal tells your team what winning looks like.
  • Achieving Goals = Achieving Strategy
    • Achieving goals does not mean a company has made progress on its strategy.
    • A company will get disrupted in the long run if they lose sight of their strategic progress.
  • Product Strategy = Company Strategy
    • Company strategy is the plan to bring your company's mission into being.
  • Goal -> Roadmap
    • A goals-first approach makes teams focus more on short-term rather than long-term goals.
    • Goals should flow from roadmaps.