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Integrating User Research into Product Strategy

As the importance of user research, insights, and product discovery practices increases, every day more product teams have integrated research as part of their “end-to-end” product development process. Which is great!

Yet when talking about Product Strategy (if they have one!), many times product leaders are fixated on company and product results as the key areas to focus on to find future opportunities.

  • Where are the main drops in our product funnel?
  • What are the key industry trends?
  • In what aspects are competitors outperforming us?

All these make sense and should be considered, but many times as product leaders we don’t use the wealth of customer research that has been previously performed to uncover underserved needs and areas where we can build strategic differentiation.

We tend to focus on Company and Product results for the strategy, instead of looking at multiple diagnosis dimensions (Figure 1.2.1 from the Product Direction book)

If we think about the different types of insights (see chart below), we will likely find not only more insights but also more valuable ones, if we consider the tons of customer inputs you generate in your everyday discovery sessions.

If you don’t integrate your user research results into your strategy definition process, you easily lose more than half its value.

Types of insights, considering the business vs customer dimension (Figure 1.4.1 from the Product Direction book)

How to do it in practice?

It's easy to agree on the importance of integrating research with strategy, but may not be so easy to change our way of doing strategy.

Luckily, what we need to do is not so difficult: whenever you are preparing a product strategy update (usually yearly with a goals/budget definition), make sure that at least you create a session to review your latest research results. As product leaders, it is your job to make this review happen, but probably many others in the organization can help present the results. For example, you can have an all-hands meeting making each Product Manager, UX, or researcher share in 5 to 10 minutes their key findings from past researches.

I would also like this to be a “call to arms” for all user researchers out there! We as product leaders need your input! We may not be proactively asking for it, but I’m sure if you bring a good summary of findings in strategy definition times, it would be highly appreciated by your product counterparts.

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Working on online products, currently as Director of Product at XING. Passionate about technology and amazing web/mobile products.

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Nacho Bassino

Nacho Bassino

Working on online products, currently as Director of Product at XING. Passionate about technology and amazing web/mobile products.

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