As a product leader, manager or CPO, any new role can be daunting. Introducing G/A/I/N for product management.
This is my lean / kick start framework I use when engaging with organisations and I’ve been sharing it with those I coach for a few years now. Today I’m offering this as a free downloadable Google Slides Deck. Please feel free to use it as a crib sheet, methodology or guide to help you run your teams and build great products. Simply copy the file and you’ll be able to edit it.
Stepping into the role of a Chief Product Officer (CPO) is a critical juncture in any executive’s career journey. The initial 90 days in this position are paramount for setting the tone, establishing a vision, and fostering relationships that will shape the product strategy and roadmap for years to come. G/A/I/N is designed as a work in progress crib sheet – it is a lean framework to make sure (in the neverending chaos of onboarding to a new client, role or organisation) that the basics are covered and you’re moving forward.
Here I’ll go into some detail as to what makes up the framework and how you can apply it to your first 90 days in any given role.
1 Immerse yourself in the company culture and landscape
- Understand the company’s mission, values, and goals to align your product strategy.
- Build relationships with cross-functional teams to establish rapport and gather insights.
- Take time to learn about the industry, competitors, and market trends.
Avoid trying to go crazy making a product impact in week one! Instead, be a listener, a sponge. Absorb as much as you can. If you add your voice to the noise you’ll be asking these questions months later. You’ll have to spend time outside the meetings or usual ‘office time’ to research around your new subject area or examine relevant trends.
2 Assess the existing product strategy
- Evaluate the current product portfolio’s performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses.
- Analyse customer feedback, user metrics, and market trends to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Collaborate with the product team to gain a deep understanding of ongoing projects and challenges.
This is time consuming but front load it now, day one. Without the voice of the customer you’ll be lost later on and have to commission studies that (embarassingly) have already been carried out. If the research is scrappy then organise it using Notion or Google Drive and dive in! Start thinking a little about the future vision and form your own ideas.
3 Prioritise and define the product vision
- Define a clear and compelling product vision that aligns with the company’s strategic goals.
- Set measurable objectives and key results (OKRs) to track progress toward the vision.
- Involve key stakeholders, including executives and team members, in shaping the vision.
The exciting part! Put together a deck of no more than 10 slides that ties what you know into an impactful vision presentation. Build a visiontype and break it down into achievable goals or stretch goals. You can use the How / Now / Wow framework which I love as it is easy to understand.
4 Establish a roadmap
- Develop a strategic product roadmap that outlines the direction of product development.
- Prioritise initiatives based on impact, feasibility, and alignment with the product vision.
- Ensure the roadmap includes short-term wins and long-term strategic bets.
Try to take your output from stakeholder interviews (devs, team) to see what sort of velocity might be achieveable with the current org. Remember this varies massively from organisation to organisation. And then see below…
5 Build and align the team
- Evaluate the skills and strengths of the existing product team members.
- Make any necessary adjustments to the team structure, hiring new talent if needed.
- Foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning.
As you’re building out your roadmap be firm about what is lacking or who needs elevation in the teams you’ll be managing. If you don’t make these decisions now you’ll be paying the price later – trust me I’ve been there!
6 Communicate effectively
- Regularly communicate the product vision, roadmap, and priorities to all stakeholders.
- Encourage transparency and open dialogue to address concerns and gather feedback.
- Leverage different communication channels such as presentations, town hall meetings, and written updates.
Be positive about the future even if the now looks ropey. Remember that in the start up world for example your luck is what you make of it. Think of how best to rally the troops and involve those on the peripherals better. For example why not involve the developers in some user testing sessions? But also be kind. Mental health in the workplace is still stigmatised (And I’m doing something about this – more on that later) especially since COVID where teams are often more remote than ever.
7 Execute and iterate
- Initiate the execution of high-priority projects in alignment with the product roadmap.
- Embrace an iterative approach, gathering feedback and making adjustments as necessary.
- Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of product initiatives.
And we’re off! See how the teams are performing, make adjustments and try to deliver to market as soon as you can. Stakeholder management is key here – do not let the C-suite interfere and derail all your hard work.
8 Measure and adjust
- Continuously assess the performance of launched products and features.
- Analyse metrics and user feedback to identify areas for improvement.
- Make data-driven decisions to adjust the product strategy and roadmap as needed.
But actually DO this. Get a decent data person to proactively present findings without prompting and use these daily, weekly to get a constant pulse on your users. Then you’ll be ready to summairse in your weekly catch ups.