A colleague recently voiced frustration that their divisional strategy is far from clear, yet they are accountable for following it and delivering results against it. Does this problem sound familiar?
Here are a few good ways to cope:
1. Look for “breadcrumb trails” – Find a presentation from the last divisional or company meeting, or a recent email from someone on the executive team; it’s likely to include at least a hint about the strategy. Another great sleuthing tip: find the basis for exec team bonuses, especially your own exec’s. This will tell you what the senior management team is most likely to care about this year!
2. Contribute to the strategy conversation – You have current information on the market, the competition and your customers. Executives who are less connected to the customers can be hungry for market data to support their plans – even if it’s anecdotal. So find ways to join the conversation and contribute some of your market knowledge, then look for opportunities to follow up with strategy-related questions.
3. When all else fails, follow the money– Identifying where your company is making money or spending money is the clearest way to locate the *real* strategy, even if the *stated* strategy is something completely different. If you have access to your company’s financials, spend some time understanding the detail, or schedule time with the Controller, CFO or an analyst in Finance to get some clarity and guidance.
Bonus tip: Request your own free copy of Pivotal PM’s Product Strategy Worksheet to help develop and align your product strategy with company strategy.
Most of our fellow product managers say that their company’s strategy is unclear, so if you’re in this situation, you’re not alone! The good news: demonstrating your ability to uncover and align with strategy, especially when it’s unclear, is a way to win executive approval and build your product management career.