How to Define Your Product Strategy

Foreword to a twelve-part series on product strategy.

Gibson Biddle
Jul 12 · 2 min read
That’s me, talking about product strategy in London.

Early in my career as a product leader, I learned to execute quickly, leading to success in building games and children’s software. But two things reinforced the value of strategic thinking for me. One good, another bad:

  • The Good. I learned to accelerate progress by thinking strategically. In building children’s software, I anticipated the value of brands and signed many of them to long-term exclusives. I also learned to appreciate the value of grade-based positioning (Elmo’s Preschool, Reader Rabbit’s 1st Grade) as well as the emerging internet opportunity.
  • The Bad. I was a co-founder of Creative Wonders, which we sold to The Learning Company (TLC), and then sold TLC to Mattel for $3.5B. But two years later Mattel spun TLC back out of the company for one-tenth its value. We had failed to build long-term, enduring value.

Fast forward to 2005 when I joined Netflix. I shifted my focus from satisfying customers to delighting them. I also learned about the balancing act of delight and margin, and what makes products hard-to-copy. And I learned to articulate a product strategy — a set of hypotheses for how to delight customers in hard-to-copy, margin-enhancing ways.

In 2010, I applied these approaches at Chegg, the textbook rental and homework help startup. Today, Chegg is a public company with a market cap of $4.5B. I expect Chegg will grow in value just as Netflix did over the last ten years.

Crisp execution and high-cadence experimentation are critical, but having a clear product strategy supercharges your efforts. Strategic thinking enables you to think ahead, to effectively “skip quarters,” and to build enduring value.

What follows is a series of short essays that provide a step-by-step approach to defining your product strategy:

I hope you find these essays helpful. Click below to read the first essay:

Essay #1: The DHM Model

Best,

Gib

Gibson Biddle

www.gibsonbiddle.com

Gibson Biddle

Written by

Former VP/CPO at Netflix/Chegg. Now a speaker, teacher, and workshop host.

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