I get asked this question a lot. So I thought I'd answer with a list of what I concern myself with from day to day, week to week, month to month. A peek inside the things that I think about, concern myself with and do in my job as I answer the Why, What and How and help teams & clients do the same.
A Product Strategist:
- Is a leader. They are someone who is able to inspire and lead clients and teams by example.
- Is someone who clients and teams can turn to in order to answer "what now" and "what next".
- Can design and facilitate workshops with client teams - and knows the techniques required to drive effective outcomes.
- Owns the full Customer Journey and understand how to use this to affect change on the overall service.
- Understand how to leverage data and perform various types of research (competitive, comparative, job studies, interviewing, observational techniques and market research) to identify insights.
- Know how to identify a problem or a potential opportunity as it relates to creating a new product or service.
- Sets up the problem space and has developed methods to frame problems (knows how to create a problem space). This includes everything from how to write effective "How Might We..." statements to running brainstorms.
- Works with the team to develop customer insights that the team can use to create a unique / novel approach to solving the problem (that leads to a unique and valuable solution). Knows various methods to develop insights.
- Knows how to conduct customer interviews and is able to write scripts, guides and even develop stimuli used to facilitate them (and understands concepts like hierarchy of needs).
- Develops value props from insights that connect and articulate “why this problem, why this customer, why this solution”.
- Helps translate and articulate this to the team in a clear way in terms of what it means for the work we will do.
- Understands an idea / solutions potential (its potential impact to metrics, its potential demand to customers, it's potential value to the business).
- Guides teams in designing solutions / sets of solutions (using value props and insights) and has methods to evaluate / validate concepts (including design thinking techniques).
- Works with UX/UI, Content and Dev to Prototype & validate potential solution(s) with customers.
- Understands various testing & validation methodologies (heuristic, smoke, a/b etc) and MVP concepts and knows how to design validation experiments to understand demand.
- Understands how to roll out and onboard customers (not just acquisitions and activation but also the higher level positioning aspects of putting a product in market).
- Develops and owns a product’s vision and roadmap that will guide where you want to go. Knows various road mapping frameworks and techniques (#now, # next, #later).
- Knows how to set and track the KPIs to measure performance as well as when and how to use CSAT, CES and NPS scores to track brand and business health.
- Understand various roadmap frameworks and knows how and when to apply them (crawl, walk, run / skateboard, bike, car / #now, #next, #later).
What are some of the core skills they must demonstrate?
Aka - what are the skills I myself demonstrate in my day to day work
- Customer research. Including running and conducting interviews to get initial insights. Distill research into compelling and differentiating insights. Be able to articulate and demonstrate areas of opportunity that can end up as "actionable insights".
- Have a clear way to evaluate (and even score) potential concepts / solutions based on demand, technical feasibility and other aspects that will tell the team what is the best route to pursue.
- Be familiar with the MVP process. The MVP process as a way to validate customer desire for a potential product and the value prop(s) they represent.
- Understand how to set goals and then implement the right KPIs, Metrics and Analytics to know how the work you are doing is impacting the efficacy of the product and impact to the business.
- Be able to leverage Customer Journey Mapping as a tool to understand the entire customer service journey as a way to identify and close gaps in the larger service around a core product.
- Workshop design and facilitation. Be able to setup and run various types of workshops with teams and clients. These can be everything from brainstorms to "5W" that is used to kick-off channel planning to solutioning white board sessions.
- Agile. Know both how to practice Agile using SCRUM as well as the larger practice of helping customers and companies become more Agile so they can respond to changing customer needs and shifts in the market,
- Leadership. Be able to work with clients, customers and stakeholders at all levels. Be a champion, a guide and a trusted advisor to the teams. A leader is a person who is empathetic and is the person anyone can turn to in order to answer "what now" and "what next".
- Know how to take a product to market including creating on-boarding and customer engagement strategies as well as general product marketing. This includes understanding various channel methodologies such as segmentation, targeting and positioning as well as bullseye framework. Know how to run experiments in order to understand which channels are the most effective for acquiring, driving adoption of a product and retaining customers.