I Found a Remarkable Way to Kill Politics in my Design and Product Strategy

Can I get a show of hands from how many people have ever had an awesome idea shot down due to politics or flimsy opinions?

Yep, I’ll bet you’ve been in client or stakeholder meetings finding yourself hit with a bunch of questions and critique about the decisions or recommendations you’ve made. Heck, you might even have a great story to tell and well thought out reasons for why you did what you did. Yet, there you sit, watching all that great work get flushed down the drain right before your very eyes by the highest paid, or the loudest (or both!) person in the room. Often, the discussion turns to things about the product or service that fly in the face of customer needs or even our own company objectives. Watching well crafted ideas get argued away in a single meeting is like squabbling over what to have for dinner while the house burns down around you.

Here’s the good news: killing politics and emotions in your design or product strategy doesn’t have to be an impossible task. By setting clear, well defined goals for your strategy, you can easily sell great ideas, decisions and recommendations without banging your head against the wall.

Download the free 4 point product strategy goal checklist, and we’ll walk through how to use it right here in this post. When we’re done, you’ll be on your way to building a brilliant design and product strategy that solves the right problems for your company and its customers.

4 Elements of a Solid Product Strategy Goal
1. State the goal or intention of your product and user experience

Before you jump in and start designing or even doing research, you need to be super clear on what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. What are the goals for the product and experience? You should be having conversations with your team and client/stakeholders to establish these goals before you do anything on your project or strategy.

Keep in mind, that these goal statements should not:

  • Be prescriptive of a specific solution
  • Refer directly to any particular business metric (yet)

Your goal statement(s) should convey your intentions in a way that explains the expected benefit of both your company and your customers.

Here’s an example: “Encourage more people to sign up for our free trial”.

2. Describe the impact of meeting each goal

Once you have clear, simple and concise goal statements it’s important to illustrate their specific impact. An easy way to do this is by using a common goal type, like “improve adoption”. By assigning the intended impact of that goal, you craft deeper context around what that statement means.

“Excellent goals provide definition for what a good design or product decision is”

3. List success indicators for each goal

Next, paint a vivid picture of what success looks like for each goal. Success indicators illustrate what we’ll see, feel or hear if we’re successfully meeting the goal(s) we outlined.

An example of a success indicator is “more people filling out the free trial sign up form”. This gives deeper meaning to something like “improve adoption” by outlining real, observable behavior we would see to indicate that we are indeed improving adoption.

Success indicators help us in so many ways from guiding our user research plan (“we want to learn more about how people find and sign up for our free trial”) to making specific design choices later (“will this page copy and image help encourage people to sign up for the free trial?”).

“Clear goals allow people to make the connection between your decisions or recommendations and the desired outcome”

4. Choose metrics that measure success indicators

Now it’s time to choose metrics that will actually measure the success for each goal. You’ll note that this is the last step and for good reason. We often jump straight to specific metrics up front which can lead us down a path of optimizing a metric in a vacuum.

Choosing metrics that are right for your strategy should be fairly easy at this point. In our example, we know that we want to encourage more people to sign up for a free trial which should help us improve adoption. We also said that a success indicator for that goal is more people filling out the free trial sign up form. From there it’s pretty easy to choose any handful of metrics that clearly track how many times someone is filling out that form. For example: success pageviews, form submissions and new user count are all potentially appropriate using our scenario.

Without first building context to why a metric is important, we risk creating solutions for the wrong problems and ultimately have a false sense of success.

Build the Foundation of your Product and Design Strategy

Last, but certainly not least, you want to document these goals in a shared place for everyone to continuously reference as you do research, make design decisions and discuss product recommendations.

You’re now ready to establish a strong product and design strategy but more importantly – you can ward off politics and irrational emotions from driving your design and product decisions. Next time you find yourself in a design review or status meeting there will be a beautiful, detailed set of goals everyone can assess decisions from.

Want a handy checklist for making strategic design and product goals? Get our 4 point product strategy goal checklist for free here.