Last week as we kicked off our annual product strategy plans, we spent some time reviewing our vision for the next 1, 3 and 5 years. In preparation to that, we reviewed our existing position in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.
I want to share some of my observations and highlight areas product managers must keep a keen eye on.
For most product managers’, Ben Horowitz’s Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager is sacred like the Bible. And so is for me. The very first paragraph by Ben is the following:
Good product managers know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good product manager is the CEO of the product. A good product manager takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the success of the product. The are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).
I strive to abide by this advice to justify my job as a PM. And one of the many tools is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. It positions you within your specific market and gives you a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors.
This is how the quadrant is structured:
If you observe the graphic below, Magic Quadrant considers vendors who fall between high growth and maturity, which also means that they are well differentiated in the competitive space.
Magic Quadrants use standard criteria in two categories:
- Ability to execute
- Completeness of vision.
Though I do not want to deep dive on all aspects of the quadrant in this post (will write a separate post on that), I would like to focus on the X-axis, which is Completeness of Vision (in technology, viability, services, features).
As a PM, one must strive to have the highest degree of confidence in the completeness of vision of his product. If his vision is blurry, the success of his product is improbable.
Here is what Gartner includes in the Completeness of Vision:
- Market Understanding: The ability of a vendor to understand buyers’ needs and translate these needs into products and services. A vendor that shows the highest degree of vision listens to and understands buyers’ wants and needs, which it can then shape or enhance with its vision.
- Marketing Strategy: A clear, differentiated set of messages consistently communicated throughout the organization and publicized through an online presence, advertising, customer programs and positioning statements.
- Sales Strategy: A strategy for selling products that uses an appropriate network of direct and indirect sales, marketing, service and communication affiliates to extend the scope and depth of a vendor’s market reach, skills, expertise, technologies, services and customer base.
- Offering (product) Strategy: A vendor’s approach to product development and delivery that emphasizes differentiation, functions, methodology and feature set in relation to current and future requirements.
- Business Model: The validity and logic of a vendor’s underlying business proposition.
- Vertical Industry Strategy: A vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the needs of market segments, including industries.
- Innovation: Marshaling of resources, expertise or capital for competitive advantage, investment, consolidation or defense against acquisition.
- Geographic Strategy: A vendor’s strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the needs of regions beyond its “home” or native area, directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that region and market.
For a PM to have absolute completeness of his vision, he should strive to gain information on each of the above aspects laid by Gartner. This became our foundation to plan the visioning exercise and plan our future roadmap. We spent some time gathering all the relevant information scattered across departments for each areas identified under Completeness of Vision and brought them together to make sense holistically. This gave us the necessary context and insights to be able to plan our future vision.
Please let me what are the best practices you use for planning your product strategy in your organization.