The Product Playbook Principles
Since starting my product management career I often sought out frameworks and methods that would help identify opportunities and deliver solutions. For every step along the way, I thought to myself what methodology could help me do this better. I was making the mistake looking for methods of one size fits all. Additionally, I would think in silos, losing the holistic view. Based on my experiences, I created a product playbook, which I have started to use to help me better choose the tools and methods at each step of the product management journey.
Before diving into the details, much of the inspiration is credited to the Opportunity Solution Tree and Product Roadmaps Relaunched.
Whether building products for startups or corporates, the whole team must be aligned on the product vision to help give shape and direction It’s about future aspirations and more about the “what” not the “how”. Creating a vision allows your team to take a top-down approach to your product’s development. You begin with a high-level vision statement, then translate that vision into a strategic guide. The outcomes are essentially the business objectives you want to achieve during a specific timeframe. The outcomes can also be used as your product roadmap that guides product development.
What often happens in product development is that the team outlines what they want to achieve and then go straight into implementation. The discovery phase helps you identify opportunities related to your outcomes and create validated solutions through experimentation.
Opportunities can be framed in different ways, but what is usually recommended is to define them as user problems. Opportunities can come from anywhere, but generally, you find them with user problem interviews, analytics and stakeholder feedback (ie. customer support).
With opportunities discovered, you can now brainstorm solutions that will bring about this opportunity. To brainstorm solutions there are different methods, but a commonly used approach is the design sprint.
It’s not enough to ideate solutions then start implementing them. Before a single line of code is written, decide on solutions that have been validated through some type of experimentation. There are different ways to experiment, you can build a design prototype to get user value and UX/UI feedback, create a landing page to see how many clicks you get or client workshops if you work in B2B. It’s important that you try to validate and increase the probability of success before you put in development resources.
Since you have done your discovery work, you now have a deeper understanding of which opportunities and solutions can better achieve your business objectives. There are many different ways to prioritise and define the scope of your solutions. One example is the user story mapping approach that creates a strong shared understanding using the user’s journey with your product. With user story mapping, you could also set up your whole product development structure, from vision to implementation.
Once you have implemented a solution, keep measuring and iterating. Talk to users that use the product and find out how they use it and what they like about it. Additionally, talk to users that don’t and find out why. Regularly look at your product metrics and importantly also see if your solution is meeting your desired outcome.
This product playbook is still a work in progress and meant as guiding principles to help you build better products. Despite being a vertical linear tree diagram, it’s important to continuously iterate and loop through each step. I generally find it helpful also for stakeholder communication and team alignment, as to explain the necessary steps for implementation and the current status of a particular item. I hope you will find it useful and please leave feedback regarding the product playbook and how you are currently doing it.