Creating a product and company strategy needs to be carefully thought out and executed. How do you figure out the long- and short-term vision and strategy? Of course, some of this is what you think should be done, but in addition, you need to look at evidence.
Applying gathered evidence to your short- and long-term strategy will ensure that this strategy effectively reaches your company goals.
In this guide, we are going to look at applying existing evidence as well as gathering new evidence as you look at your strategy for the long and short term.
Existing evidence applies to what you already know. You probably already know something about the market you are in and have conducted some good competitive research as well as market research to understand where the product and market are going. Additionally, depending on the size and age of your company, you may have launched products in the past and have evidence and analysis from those launches. You need to be able to apply this evidence to your short- and long-term goals. These are all examples of existing evidence—things you already know but just need to apply and interpret.
What is the existing evidence and how does it fit into your short- and long-term vision and strategy? Does the evidence show you need to grow in your current market? Expand into new markets? Take more share? Dig into the competition?
These are the hard questions you need to ask in order to evaluate what is ‘on the table and what exists. Based on the existing evidence, you should be able to answer these questions and start to formulate how you see your short- and long-term visions evolving.
Existing evidence is extremely important because it helps you understand exactly what is going on in there here and now. There are many merits of current evidence, but there are also gaps that will help you start to gather new evidence. These gaps will identify what you need to ask to gather new evidence and accelerate the process.
Gathering new evidence helps fill the gaps you uncover by looking at existing evidence. What are the holes in your strategy that you need to fill? What kind of evidence do you need in order to develop a solid short- and long-term strategy?
First, you need to ask a question. For example, say you are looking at growing your cloud business as part of your short- and long-term strategy. However, you have no existing evidence, other than it’s what you want to do for your strategy. These are the steps you would go through to gather new evidence:
Ask a question, in this case: "Will the cloud market grow? And if so, how?’"
Give a hypothesis of what you think may happen based on what you are thinking for strategy. Maybe you think the cloud market will grow by 10%, so you need to invest $1,000,000.
Collect data. You need to gather data and do research to try to figure out where the cloud market is headed and when. This could be from analysts, competition, current sales, etc.
Analyze data. After you collect the data, you need to analyze to understand and think about what it means. It is important to know the data does not always predict the future, so this is all about collecting and analyzing the best you can.
Determine whether it's a fit. Does this data and analysis fit with what you were looking for? If so, great, but look to make some adjustments. If not, you may need to start over and ask a new question to start the process again.
Gathering new evidence to use alongside your existing evidence is key as you look to determine your short- and long-term strategy.
Once you have all of your evidence gathered, how do you apply this to your short- and long-term strategy?
Your short-term strategy usually refers to your vision and strategy for the next twelve months. This time period can vary by company, but I think as a general rule a year is a good timeframe to pinpoint a short-term strategy.
Where does your research and evidence say the market is going in the next year? Where your existing and collected evidence points will help you develop your short-term strategy. Usually, this strategy will also apply to your product road maps as they are usually 12-18 months out and are seen as shorter term.
Short-term strategy is important, but not as important as long-term strategy, which should really be determined first.
Your long-term strategy is your vision for the company or product beyond the next year. Where are you going in the next five or ten years? Many people might think it’s hard to even think about that when you are just trying to deal with the here and now, but not looking at your long-term strategy can leave you having to play catch-up instead of getting ahead.
The first thing we need to understand is that your short-term strategy should be a part of your long-term strategy. The evidence that you had already and the evidence you gather also need to be integrated into that. If you only had evidence for your short-term strategy, you should be gathering evidence for your long-term strategy during that step.
The long-term strategy is often more important and should actually be done before your short-term strategy. Using your evidence to ask questions and go through the evidence-gathering process is key to long-term success.
It’s sort of like writing the conclusion for one of these guides before writing the guide itself. Understand where you are going in the future, and you can easily fill in the blanks along the way.
You have existing evidence, you have evidence you need to gather, and you have a short-term vision and a long-term vision. All of these four categories fit together and are extremely important to ensure you see long-term success and growth.