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2 Tools to drive Product Alignment

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

This week we continue from last weeks Tale of 2 Masons and explore 2 tools which can help align your teams around

  1. Your product vision and strategy

  2. Tactical day to day product development

In case you would rather read than watch, a lightly edited transcript of the video is below.


The problem with a crisp product vision and strategy is that it can be very abstract if you don’t have all the context around it. As a result, it can be hard for your teams to relate to it and hence it may not be very inspiring.


Humans in general connect to emotions and stories.


Tool #1 – User Persona & Story telling


A fantastic technique to bring your vision and strategy to life is to use personas and the art of storytelling.


As a first step, you want to identify the key persona whose problems you will be solving with your product. You want to identify the user, the buyer, the influencer, and any others.


Once you identify the personas, you want to do an analysis of these personas to understand their demographics in terms of who they are, what they do, where they stay, their background, etc.


Then you want to dive into their:

  • motivations/ aspirations

  • goals

  • everyday activities

  • fears

  • frustrations

If you are working with your marketing team to flesh out the persona, they would add other elements including brands that these personas associate themselves with, where they hang out, what websites they visit and so on.


Ideally, you want to give this persona a name and a face, so that your teams can visualize the person. For example, if you are working on a solution that will equip farmers with data which will help them time their harvest, then you want to have the picture of a farmer and give him a name – say Hanumanthappa (that's the gardener who took my job at home 😉)!


The next step is to craft a story which brings this persona and your strategy to life by focusing on the 3 key elements that any good story must have

  1. The main characters – Your personas with names and lives. The main persona would be the hero of the story.

  2. The Villain – in this case that would be the problem that the hero is facing. How it is preventing them from reaching their goal. You also want to talk about the fears and frustrations faced by the hero. Bring in the emotions so that it becomes more real

  3. The resolution – your solution and how the various elements of your product strategy is expected to help the hero. Also talk about the emotions that will be evoked in your hero after using your product and solving the product

Once done, give the story a nice short catchy title, so that you can reference it easily and often.


You should consider putting up posters with pictures of the persona around the offices to remind your teams that you are solving problems for a real person and how you are solving it. If you are completely virtual you could consider opening your all hands with the story poster.


Bottom line - Make your vision and strategy relatable, bring in emotion and make it human!


Tool #2 – User stories


A fantastic tool to align teams on the tactical product implementations are user stories. Most product managers would be familiar with user stories in the format of

As a User, I want something, so that I can achieve something

For example,

As a customer walking into a juice shop, I want a glass of chilled fresh lime soda, so that I can quench my thirst

The beauty of this format is that it succinctly captures, the who, the what and the why.


But I have found 2 problems with the user story format.


  • I have seen too many people not giving it thought and ending up with user stories like –

As a person, I want a glass of chilled fresh lime soda, so that I can drink it!

A case of using a tool, but not using it right. Here you have not talked about the problem (thirst) and the need (quenching it).


Coming up with the Why in the user story needs you to have a good understanding of the problem and the discipline to articulate it.


  • The order of things in the user story format is Who, What and Why. The why comes last. It would have been fantastic if the Why came before the What.

As a customer walking into a juice shop, in order to quench my thirst, I want a glass of chilled fresh lime soda

That puts the focus on the user and their need before coming up with the solution.


But that said, it is a very powerful tool if used correctly.

 

If you are looking to aligning your teams around your product vision and strategy and would like to bounce off ideas to come up with a story ...


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