The purpose of this document is to launch the annual refresh of Dropbox’s product strategy. The document provides some framing, overviews the process, establishes the initial workstreams, and provides some prompts.
Dropbox’s original PSA wrote “We think of strategy as an integrated set of choices.” That is very well said, and having that integrated view is why we do the work on product strategy at all. This work results in setting strategies for Dropbox to pursue in terms of its products. These are broad level things - they do not define, for example, what features Paper would build. But they do clarify the role Paper plays in our overall success.
In 2016 and 2017, “strategy alignment” documents were written (link was provided). This defined our product strategy, and companion efforts were undertaken for Growth and Outbound alignment.
The findings and direction of the current product efforts are still incredibly relevant to Dropbox’s core business. There were three core market insights blah blah blah, and two competitive insights: Blah blah
It called for a focus on Blah blah
Scope of work
We recognize that there are some significant bigger strategic questions at play – Blah Blah
While these kinds of questions are important, we do not need for everyone involved to feel the burden of answering these larger questions. Informing and prompting are helpful, as is starting from a frame of reference of embracing the strategy as it already exists.
As people engage on the work for the product strategy, we want input that would inform what actions we’d take over a 1-2 year timeframe based on a 3-4 year outlook.
A healthy process for product-level strategy allows us to be curious and thoughtful.
The curiosity can be satisfied by balancing top-down strategic thinking with bottom-up insights based on what the teams see and think. The “teams” being a very inclusive and diverse set of potential inputs—our teams selling, supporting, partnering, etc. all have unique signal that can contribute to where we take our products.
The thoughtfulness can be satisfied by using a careful process for gathering the inputs, involving the different levels of leadership at the right scopes to prompt and nudge the work along, and is supported by being transparent to the whole org. Doing this on an annual cadence also helps as it keeps us reflective on the world around us and the progress we really are, or are not, making.
We plan to do this annually as so many things are changing month-to-month and year-to-year—our customers’ needs, the market, competitors, technical possibilities, product progress, etc.
Note that this process does not replace things like Company-level Goals and OKRs, the QSRs, etc. This process shapes what the product organization (EPD) will be pursuing, and informs exploration of inorganic options.
Workstreams, Schedule, etc.
We will drive this process kicking off in April and shipping a memo in June. April is spent mostly working on the various input streams, and May is spent working through creating and working an evolving set of Strategic Initiatives that the company will pursue as the tangible, actionable expression of product strategy.
The work will be done by primarily three groups of people:
Domains of Expertise – these are input areas each representing a unique perspective on our business. They will set up working groups to create input documents and work their own process to ensure the right perspective is created, communicated, etc. A leadership group culled from these teams will be part of reviewing the strategy, first in draft form
EPD Leadership – ultimately responsible for shaping the product strategy. The memo and bets are set by this group.
Dropbox Senior Leadership – provides input through the domain work and an explicit review and approval process once the Strategic Initiatives are created
Process flow for this is as follows:
Expressed as steps, these are:
Kickoff (you are here!)
Transition to Execution
Kickoff (you are here!)
with PSR working group
Set of conversations with company leadership to ensure good Prompts
process gets started!
Start the process, get everyone on a common same page and framing, set timing and expectations