“As a product development team, how can we best reinforce technology-driven strategy?”
The key qualifier to this question is that it’s being asked by a member of a product development team. And, because of this, I need to start my answer by saying – please make sure that a technology-driven strategy is, in fact, what the organization wants you to reinforce.
Coming from someone who is an engineer by education, and who has led many different R&D teams throughout my career, I can tell you that I always want to innovate. That’s my natural bent. And because of that, whenever someone hands me a product that I think can be improved upon – guess what I always want to do? The problem, of course, comes when that’s not what my company wants me to do.
Not every product strategy will be technology-driven. There are plenty of very valid and very successful strategies that call for differentiation through cost, price, delivery, service, packaging, promotion, or any other number of factors that have little or nothing to do with product innovation. Because of this, you have to make sure that you know what your product managers are looking for before you move forward under the assumption that a technology-driven strategy is, in fact, what they want.
Now, assuming that a technology-driven strategy is the way to go, then the best thing you can do as a product development team is to work with your product managers during the business case development process. Especially in a waterfall process, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of product managers not having access to development resources when they’re putting together their business cases. And this usually happens because development resources need to be allocated to projects, and few companies view putting together a business case as being a billable project.
But this logic is fundamentally flawed, because if you don’t get your development estimate right, you’ll never have enough money allocated to developing the product that you really want. And that’s a pretty difficult dynamic to overcome.
So, if your strategy is indeed technology-driven, make sure that product management and product development are working together not only after you get the money, but also while you’re trying to figure out what money you’re going to need. Because there’s absolutely no way to reinforce a technology-driven strategy if you have no money to spend on technology in the first place.
Listen to the podcast episode
Dear Strategy: Episode 034