Strategy is one of those subjects that most people think they understand when very few actually do (I might be one of the former, but that would make this an awkward article, so I’ll continue on the premise I’m not :)). Depending on the people you ask, it is something that should be top-down, bottom-up or simply all across the organisation. Whatever view you take of it, there are a few issues that are of critical importance and today I would like to focus on an aspect of implementation that is not often linked: “ownership”.
What does ownership have to do with strategy?
…you might ask, and that’s a great question! Strategy and ownership don’t seem to have a clear link until you start switching your viewpoint around (starting from ownership). One of the key areas to drive within a productive product team is ownership. Ownership is what enables individuals within a team to make key decisions without constantly having to refer back to their team leaders, managers or boss (and thus enabling faster actions). This only works, however, if people feel they have
- The authorisation of making those decisions on a daily basis
- Protection in case they make mistakes
- Understand all of the criteria to make the decisions
Points 1 & 2 seem fairly obvious but for some reason, point 3 often seems to be neglected and that’s where strategy comes in. Strategy, done right, provides a direction framework that enables decision making to occur in a clear manner by evaluating the outcomes of a certain decision against the strategic goals of the company. Without a clear strategy, decisions run the chance of being inconsistent and pointing in different directions and people know this.
It might come as a weird thought (not really, I hope), but people don’t like to be completely wrong. Although you can tell them over and over again that they should be and have all the freedom to make decisions, good people will only do so if they feel confident they are going to be good at it and that’s where strategy comes in.
Communicate & watch
Putting the last two points together, it’s easy to see that a badly communicated strategy will result in a team that is unwilling to make decisions, however many times you tell them they can. Once people fully understand the framework against which they are to evaluate different options, they will be able to finally make the decisions everyone (them being the first) wanted to be made in the first place.
If you have any questions & or feedback, don’t hesitate — leave them in the comments! 🙂