The challenge of Strategy Formulation in Products with very wide Markets
An interview with the CPO of Sherpany, a meeting management app with a very wide set of opportunities for expansion
There are products that serve very specific niches, verticals, or user types. But sometimes we have products and visions that give us the chance to expand in almost infinite directions. While this may sound like a very desired thing, it may turn out to be a curse when you really need to focus and align with stakeholders that may have very different opinions of what the next strategy should be.
One interesting example is Sherpany: a startup in the scale phase focused on meeting management solutions. You can imagine that meetings of very different types happen with very different users and almost in any location.
So in this interview, Nina walk us through how they created their strategy, and the steps and conversations they had to really narrow down and select a specific focus to grow their market space.
My 5 takeaways from my conversation with Nina
- Sherpany has a very solid annual strategy process, with clear steps, deadlines, and resulting artifacts. While sometimes this level of formality can affect the innovation of breakthrough ideas, I believe strong cadences help you gain momentum and avoid “hiding away” from the strategic work that is required regularly.
- When discussing positioning, it was very interesting the mix of approaches used (defining a meeting category, a target user -meeting leaders-, the customer journey with 22 touchpoints, and the ones they wanted to excel on). Sounds like a complex analysis, but resulted in a very clear focus.
- Nina tied her current example to the current growth stage of the company (scale-up) and made very explicit the importance of selecting with a very clear focus on the user and need in mind (only executive meetings) to grow and scale the product impact.
- While the vision goes in the direction of reaching all users and use cases, their strategy was very focused on a type of user and type of meeting, making a more narrow product scope that helps them excel and grow strengthening their core capabilities. They leveraged the most “natural” growth path.
- When talking about the longer term, Nina mentioned how the understanding of a longer horizon strategy was built over time. I think this reflects on our growing understanding as leaders and teams, making Strategy is not a set and forget process but continuously evolving as we learn, giving us a better understanding of how we can play in the future.
What are your takeaways?
This content is related to my book Product Direction. In it, I describe in length, with tools and examples, all the steps to create a successful product strategy and how to connect it with OKRs.