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And then what?

One of the exercises that I put my product managers (and myself) to when they come up with ideas and plans to work on is to ask them one question repeatedly.

"And then what?"

For instance, I was helping someone breakdown their approach to introducing new marketing channels for their product. They had outlined an 8-week plan across multiple marketing channels to learn how each of those would perform. Firstly, we outlined what it is that we expect to learn over the 8-week period. And then, what would we do with that learning?

As we began to answer that, we stated we would pick the best performing channel(s) and invest more in them while reducing investment in others for a longer period, say the next six months. This raised more questions as to how we would evaluate the performance of each channel that took us down Return-on-investment discussions. Once we had outlined how we would measure it, and had answered and then what we would do with what we measured, it was a lot more straight forward to set goals for those metrics.

The goals that we set and the learnings that we aim for must be actionable. There have to be a specific set of action(s) that we must be committed to taking depending on how close we come to hitting the goal we set ourselves.

If it isn't actionable this way, then the goals we set simply becomes dreams and hopes and nothing more.

When I set goals for the products I work on (and for the other areas in my life that I set goals for), this is a core tenet I try to follow. That is to ensure that the goals I set are ones I am committed to action on.

And the best way to understand for yourself whether you are committed to action on the goals you set out is to do the "And then what?" exercise.

If you don't have convincing answers for that question, then you do not have a good strategy in place for what you are doing.

Good strategy starts with that one question.

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