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Memo template

This template/outline example is a shape of product strategy documents that I have used in the past. These come out typically to 10 page documents and are very widely distributed at the company.

It is the final output of a process to build all of it – that’s a whole separate discussion and is not covered in this document. This doc is just an outline of the document itself.

Blocked sections like this are commentary on the template. Any other body text is example or boilerplate text.

Product Strategy

Introduce the purpose of this document – what it is for, what it is not for, the scope and timescale of relevance.
The purpose of this document is to communicate [FOO_COMPANY]’s product strategy. It is a high-altitude output from the first of an annual process to update our product strategy.
This document sets a direction and articulates a set of …
It does not prescribe how to balance these priorities against all the work in the company, nor does it go into detail about the process the company will use to execute on the strategy.


Start with company mission
Explain a bit of progress, history to date
Good opportunity to set some context on choices – if there were radical bigger choices made that won’t be articulated in the rest of the doc.
In a paragraph – summarize what the strategy is

Key Insights

Summarize the insights in a paragraph
Then have a numbered set of paragraphs of the key insights about the market and the customers. 3-5 of these, with crisp handles and a paragraph that provides the most impactful supporting evidence and relates that insight into the position you are in
At the end, its possible to have a note about what isn’t covered – wrt competitors people might have expected to hear about, or adjacent markets, etc.
Self-serve SaaS is working at scale
Our total addressable market (TAM) is large and will be $50B in 2019. There is room for growth across all segments, even in SMB, where FOO_COMPANY has the strongest penetration of paid users within the 1-9 employee company segment. Penetration progressively weakens in the 10-49, 50-249, and 250+ segments, where we have a strong Basic user base. Our continued success scaling self-serve SaaS (and the success of peers like Slack and Atlassian) is proving the sustainability of a user-driven adoption model.

Winning Aspiration

Use a sub-heading to write the aspirational statement. A short sentence that illuminate the product strategy that would endure beyond a single year or release. This is at a lower altitude than a company mission statement. [FOO_COMPANY] is leading blah category, by doing blah blah.

A couple paragraphs of prose that explain that statement – unpack all the words and provide full context. It should read in a way that connects the observations from the Key Insights and asserts what customers/users want given those insights
List out the Beliefs – the 3-5 principles that shape how you think. What do you believe? About the market, your product, your customers, your position. Between the Insights and clarifying what the product strategy is in terms of what to build and who to build for, its helpful to assert what you believe about the world. This is a set of numbered paragraphs. For example, at Dropbox we believe “Best-of-breed is better than walled gardens” – its something we believed that shapes what we do and how we do it.

Where to Play

Another set of number paragraphs that uses and illuminates what market, what segments, what users you will go after. The paragraphs need to have a crisp handle, then supporting prose that explains it, show evidence, and highlights what might be hard about it too.
Land in small self-serve teams in companies of all sizes
Our priority over the next several years will be to land in teams with expansion potential: environments that support multiple teams. Teams are the dynamic groups of people (often 2-12) that come together to get something done. Growing our selfserve business from our strong base requires focusing on successful Dropbox Business adoption within companies of ~25-250 employees, where the cost-effective scale of self-serve can be realized and there is room to drive expanded adoption over time. …

How to Win

Another set of numbered paragraphs, this time with the How to Win from same framework as Where to Play. Same format. Covers the major vectors of work that the product needs to get after.
Attract an ecosystem with our scale and content
[FOO_COMPANY] can create a win-win for our users by solving tool fragmentation, and for SaaS vendors by facilitating adoption of their products. New SaaS vendors entering the market face activation challenges due to the anxiety customers feel about new tools — whereas [FOO_COMPANY] can provide credibility and manageability for users and IT administrators.
To that end, we will pursue deep integrations with hand-picked partners, presented on the [FOO_COMPANY] surfaces as if they were part of the [FOO_COMPANY] core product offering. We will also develop a broader third-party ecosystem of tools that are not as deeply integrated ….

Execution: tagline

Prose on introduce specific project effort that will be how the team gets after the work. In the past, I have used “Strategic Initiatives” or “Vectors” and other constructs to organize this, but ultimately its about putting names to efforts that the product development teams will ultimately get after.

Why [FOO_COMPANY], why now?

No more than a page of prose. Why should you be able to do this? What gives the company particular strategic power to pull this off?

Appendix: A visual guide to the 3Cs

There is room for more detail! These would go beyond the 10 pages and may be cut from broad dissemination of the material.
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