Typical product strategy and planning centres around 3 things:

  1. Existing stays existing (Linear Growth)
  2. Explore Adjacencies (Expansion of growth with a mix of Linear & Non-Linear Growth)
  3. New Markets (Non-Linear growth)

#1: Existing stays existing means we need to keep growing the current business and ensure customers are retained. Key metrics here are typically around Win Ratio, Retention & so on. This is typically the routine iteration & enhancements to the product based on customer usage insights, quantitative & qualitative feedback (i.e. Customer delight stage).

This could also include non-core activities like working with GTM team to improve sales conversion & time to go live! & so on. This could also lead to new product discovery (or discovery of net new problem value) based on routine discussions with the customer (or input from GTM team). In fact, my consistent question after every new sales discovery call is to ask, is there a 'net new problem value' we can work on? :)

#2: Exploring adjacencies is typically trying to expand into new segments which could be new geography, new verticals or new GTM angle. In most cases, this requires product discovery but may not require to change the fundamental problem/value.

#3 New Markets is where it gets exciting in terms of new Product Discovery. It could be a new product line, new growth engine for the product line and so on. At Amdocs, Eric used to call this The Next Thing (TNT). I was extremely fortunate to work on TNTs and eventually that was my only responsibility. Trust me, you don't get to do this even as a founder. Ping me if you want to know more about why not? #DreamJob

While PM and the dev organisation spend most of their time on #1, the exciting part for me is to work on #2 and/or #3. This is not to say #1 is not important. In fact, I would strongly urge teams to devote maximum time on #1. If you don't get this right, there is no #2, #3!

However, it is very critical that we plan for #2, #3 and have a clear point of view (PoV) of the same. This kinda ties into the product roadmap stages of Plan of Record (#1), Plan of Intent (#1, #2), and Plan of Direction (mostly #2, #3). Depending on your product maturity & growth stage, there will be a phase where you need to devote more time on #2 & #3.

So how do you go about figuring Net New Problem Value?

This is what we typically follow:

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About the author: Baskar Ganapathy is a Product Leader with 13+ years of product management (overall 25+ years) experience building B2B/enterprise software. His experience ranges from leading strategy to find the next $100M growth to building a product team from scratch to grow to 15K+ SMB & 30+ enterprise customers. Most recently, he lead the new Product & growth initiatives at Whatfix, a Market leader in Digital Adoption Platform (DAP).

This post has been reproduced from his original Linkedin post.


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