Every team I’ve worked with has grappled with the challenge of limited resources. In my previous life, when I was in a startup I used to think that resourced constraints will not be there in big tech firms. Turns out, it’s even a bigger problem. With limited resources, how do figure out which product can give you 10X growth?
In the past couple of months, I was grappling with the same problem again. But unlike my previous roles, this time I had the luxury of working with seasoned product leaders to figure this out.
One thing that was pretty clear before I started with the problem is that focussing on every product and opportunity was definitely the wrong answer. Someone wise once told when it comes to strategy, doing more is never the right answer! If the proposed strategy isn’t focussed, simple, and less than three bullets, it’s not well baked. Personally, I’m not a fan of burning through your team to drive numbers. If that’s what it takes to grow, it’s perhaps not the right space to be in. If doing more and asking for more isn’t a choice, what to do?
The only option left is to prioritize. What are 1–2 things high-yield opportunities that could give a disproportionate return. The answer could vary depending on multiple factors including time horizon. As I was focused on immediate impact (6 months to a year), there are limited things possible.
I was discussing my conundrum with a senior PM at Google, and he suggested hunting for product-market fit. I was a bit surprised hearing this term after ages and being used in a non-startup context.
He explained, “when focussing on short-term wins, there is no time to create and drive something new. Of course, you will still invest in the future, but that will be with no expectation of immediate return. Instead, look for something that’s already working well. Something that has a product-market fit, and just needs a growth push to scale.”
Product-market fit is both an overused and extremely useful framework. Essentially, in Marc Andreessen’s words, you want to evaluate whether the product or feature is in a good (large enough) market and can satisfy that market. If there is a large market for the product/feature and customers are consistently satisfied with the product/feature, it’s easy to scale and drive impact. This required digging through numbers and speaking to customers. As is often the case, I didn’t get all the figures I need but was good enough to…