The most common problem in enterprises is the lack of the ability to connect the dots between strategy and tactical.

This adds to a lack of a culture of learning and results in zero innovation.

Agile coaches often blame this on a lack of leadership and direction.

Be mindful, that Agile doesn't fix this. Teams that adopt Agile end up promoting a strategy of throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping it sticks.

These Agile teams practice the voice of the customer as lip service.

When a team and the enterprise function in programs and projects, Voice of Customer becomes lip service. The representation of the customer becomes a scope that may or may not be delivered. It all depends on the prioritization and availability of time and money.

Refer to the article on how product owners contribute to product vision, they don’t, where I share how Agile was inherently flawed in design to make people order takers as waiters.

So remember, say no to representing voice of the customer as lip service!

So don’t do this, instead, adopt the continuous discovery model and find out what needs to be done. Identify the ideal customer profile and jobs to be done, then build for them.

Before we jump into this, let me explain with a picture what I mean by strategy vs tactical.

How do we truly empower people and create this "Agility" thing people talk about with this continuous discovery all day every day?!

My approach is to add the ability to make decisions on strategy at all levels.

This ensures that you are empowered to make decisions.

Ultimately, this changes the way of working and becomes the culture.

But wait!

If you do not have the mandate to do so though and if you ask for permission you most likely going to be told off or pigeonholed into doing something else by the powers that may be.

In the worst-case scenario, you may even get fired/ let go/ redundant.

So then what do you do?

The only way to transform your ways of working is to build credibility at the bottom, build trust with the top, get the mandate to change, and then disrupt.

I repeat that - build credibility at the bottom, build trust with the top, get the mandate to change and then disrupt.

How do you build trust?

1- Start with Product Evangelism

Guy Kawasaki put it years ago, “selling the dream.” 

Marty Cagan explains "It’s helping people to imagine the future, and inspiring them to help create that future."

To me, product evangelism plays a big piece in creating direction through prioritization and alignment through clarity of vision.

The above references in the hyperlinks will help guide an understanding of how to address prioritization and alignment along with evangelism.

2-Assess your organization's Digital Maturity and your team's capability

In addition, before you jump into solving a problem or delivering a solution, digital readiness should be assessed.

It is of utmost critical to assess before you address a problem. This will help address some key stakeholders in your business or a massive capability gap that might exist.

It allows for a plan to be made and actions to be taken to address gaps and support the transformation with the right people and teams to help drive the change in your organization.

For instance:
Imagine trying to bring a product to market in an organization where the customer support team is still using Excel spreadsheets to manage, triage, and report on things?!

This becomes a data silo where things get lost in translation or just some file.

Example of an assessment with global and regional teams in a complex organization.

3- Adopt Continuous Transformation Mindset

A continuous journey of reimagination of an enterprise in a world where digital technology increases the value of the organization, its products, operations, and services.

This is a journey where the evolution of strategy, culture, people, process, and technology takes place over an indefinite period.

Continuous transformation becomes the mindset, culture, and strategy. It enables Innovation.

4- Truly understand the customer gap

To transform your organization, you need to be able to ask the question of if your current customers and target market are the ideal ones.

Ben Williams (The Product-Led Geek) in his recent newsletter shared the - The perfect customer and the ICP gap.

Source : Ben Williams Newsletter - ICP Gap

5- Don't do "projects" do real product management

Due to the Agile Industrial Complex, most organizations see transformation as a “project”, and this is where they end up in the kaizen paradox.

When we look at a business’s lifecycle, the most important is the plateau point which is the Kaizen Paradox concept, if a business gets stuck here it kills innovation and the transformation journey fails. I wrote the concepts of Kaizen, Kaikaku, and Kakushin in the article The Kaizen Paradox.

Product management has introduced critical practices into the transformation journey that change the outcomes of any transformation.

For instance, product management helps look at behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, growth marketing, and user-centered design which optimize the value creation for a product stream.

Product management also then goes into deeper discovery across the problem and solution space to create or optimize value by innovating on a product’s value propositions.

Product lifecycle involves building out a product to meet a problem solution fit, which is then followed by product market fit and then by business model fit.  

Don't just build features because the competition is doing so!
Image Source - Strategizer Series - Value Proposition Design

Product managers should ensure that the businesses they work for stay competitive and innovative during this lifecycle.

They can do this by ensuring the products they are working on stay:

●       valuable

●       viable

●       feasible

●       desirable

Marty Cagan explains these clearly in his article - Product Risk Taxonomy. Be sure to read it as he states the difference between Consumer Products and Business Products.

Start today stop dreaming!

So instead of procrastinating, start doing the following today.

1- Start product evangelism, establish and oversee the standards and processes related to product strategy, product planning, feature discovery, and requirements analysis and documentation. Don't wait for someone to give you a mandate to do these! Just start!

2- Balance the macro and micro. Do this by guiding the vision, strategy, standards, and processes from feature discovery, to drafting/reviewing wireframes, PRDs, etc.

I am not a fan of PRDs or detailed requirements documents that go into 100+ pages, one brief one is ideal for answering the following questions

What does it do?
Who is this for?
What value does it add? (Value Proposition - 3 at least?)
5 Key Features
Key Stakeholders (insiders are important ! eg VP of Sales)
Key Opportunities

3- Own the product prioritization process. Ruthlessly prioritize!

Ensuring trade-offs are managed between customer experience, commercial value, operational improvements, delivery feasibility, technical limitations, resourcing capacity, and maintenance vs build.

 4- Own the research!

Develop a deep understanding of customer journeys and product performance through data and experimentation.

Become the expert in using research data to measure success and inform product decisions.

5-  Practice the real voice of the customer!!!

Be fanatical about the customer and user experience. Think deeply and analytically about the product, customer experience, and relevant regulatory requirements. Ensure these align with the value proposition and target customer group, then work through the possible opportunities and execute!

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