Do you ever wonder, how can your team start running better product strategy meetings?
Product meetings are of vital importance to any team. Product managers, founders, product leaders, and anyone else in leadership roles in the company should understand how to best use these meetings to move their team forward.
Product meetings that are messy, unfocused, or focused on the wrong thing are a drain on peoples’ energy and just end up being a waste of time.
Read on and we’ll share a few tips for how to run successful product strategy meetings, as well as a few mistakes to avoid.
What’s the Purpose of a Product Strategy Meeting?
You should start by understanding why product strategy meetings exist in the first place.
A product strategy meeting helps everyone involved in the success of the company’s product to align and work towards the same overall vision.
A lot of businesses have one of three problems, regarding a product:
- Building the wrong products.
- Individual departments have a different ideas of what the product strategy is.
- Not having a clearly defined strategy at all.
This meeting is meant to avoid all three of these potential pitfalls. It should help all relevant parties understand not just “what” you’re building, but “why” you’re building it.
That’s the high-level goal of a product strategy meeting. But these meetings also help foster a collaborative environment, allowing you to get unique insights from various parts of the company on how it should be moving forward.
It provides a platform for different areas to work together towards a shared goal. For example, it helps the marketing, engineering, and customer success teams all understand what the product vision of the company is.
This puts each team on the same page, focused on a single strategic objective.
A product strategy meeting is also an opportunity to address progress and fine-tune the product vision for any changes in market conditions or new data that’s come out. This allows the product strategy to stay relevant and successful, rather than everyone stubbornly working towards a strategy that’s not going to work.
Related: curious about the difference between product strategy and business strategy? Read this post to learn more.
How Often Should Product Strategy Meetings Be Held?
There’s no universal answer to how often you should have product meetings. You’ll want to decide what works best for your team.
Most teams do quarterly product strategy meetings. This is a good mix of keeping it somewhat regular but giving things room to breathe in between each meeting.
However, if quarterly meetings don't fit your business or your product team, you might want to try monthly strategy meetings or every six weeks.
As a general idea, if your meetings are more about broad, high-level strategy, it’s better to hold them less frequently. You don’t want to be adjusting your overall product vision like your brand color, logo design, and styles every few weeks.
More focused topics, or meetings about new and evolving areas, can be good to discuss on a more regular basis.
5 Tips to Help You Run a Great Product Strategy Meeting
Just setting a time, booking the meeting room, and showing up is not enough. You can gather all the brightest minds in your company to discuss product strategy, but there’s no guarantee that something productive will come out of it.
To make sure your product strategy meetings move the company forward, you need careful planning and execution.
Whether you’re running a quarterly product strategy meeting, monthly, or anything else, here’s how to ensure you run a successful strategy meeting.
1 - Come in with a clear agenda (including goals and objectives)
Your meeting should have a clear focus. Without a focus or agenda, it’s too easy for it to become a brainstorming session, which produces no actionable takeaways.
You should figure out what will be discussed, how it relates to the product strategy or vision, and what the objectives of the meeting are to be.
The point of the agenda is to keep discussions focused and centered on the topic at hand.
Strategy meetings often get stuck in the weeds, discussing at length trivial details such as which shade of blue to use for an opt-in form button. Or, they spiral off on tangents that are far removed from the meeting’s objective.
Whenever this begins to happen, bring things back to the agenda at hand.
Additionally, distribute the agenda to the meeting’s participants beforehand, so everyone can prepare accordingly and bring something to the table.
2 - Leave egos and emotion at the door
It’s easy to get emotional in product strategy meetings. People become very invested in their ideas, yet their ideas may not always go over well with the rest of the team.
This can lead to dissent, bickering, hurt feelings, and discourage productive discussion.
It’s even more precarious when the meeting has participants from multiple departments. All the teams involved want to push for resources or recognition for their team, and the meeting soon becomes a battleground.
Right from the start, establish that the meeting is an ego-free zone. Make it clear to everyone that nothing to be discussed is personal, and that you’re all working towards a common goal, which is the company's success.
This will help ensure that it’s a safe place for people to share and discuss ideas, risk-free.
3 - Use data to back up strategic decisions
Meetings get emotional when they become a battle of opinion vs opinion. And if you arbitrarily decide whose opinion holds more weight, things inevitably turn personal.
Wherever possible, you should make decisions on the back of data. It’s much easier and fairer to justify choosing one opinion over another when there’s evidence to support it.
Customers voting on feature requests and new ideas, like in the image above from BrainBoard, is a great asset to bring to a meeting to back up product strategy ideas.
Whether an idea is brought up by the product manager, product leader, CEO, or intern, they should all hold more or less the same weight as long as there is data to support the idea.
Create an environment where everyone knows that data rules over gut feeling or instinct. Encourage participants to come to the meeting prepared with data to back up what they have to say.
4 - Communicate the takeaways from the meeting
A productive strategy meeting means nothing when everyone goes back to their work and forgets what happened or what was agreed on.
You should have a summary of key takeaways and agreed-upon points from the meeting, and distribute this to all meeting participants.
You might put these takeaways or action points into work during the meeting - such as by updating your roadmap based on what's been discussed at the meeting.
See the example below from UChat, which also gives customers the option to vote on the new product strategy - valuable data you can return to at your next product strategy meeting.
5 - Make a note of any off-topic ideas that come up (to revisit)
The discussion will inevitably stray off-topic at some point. And while you want to bring it back to the agenda when this happens, off-topic ideas can still be extremely valuable.
You don’t want to throw these ideas away completely, but at the same time, this meeting is not the time to elaborate on them.
Instead, make a note of these ideas to revisit at a later time. You may want to schedule another meeting, with a smaller group, or come back to these points at the next strategy session.
Related: check out some of the most common and important Product Manager Interview Questions, as well as what to look for in a new hire.
Product Meeting Mistakes to Avoid
We’ve given you a list of things to do to make your monthly or quarterly product strategy meeting more successful. Now here are some common mistakes for you to avoid.
Turning it into a standup meeting
It’s easy for a product strategy meeting to turn into a standup meeting. Instead of discussing key points regarding product strategy and vision, each party just brings an update of what they’ve been working on.
There’s a time and a place for standup meetings, but it’s not here. This meeting is for collaborating on strategic ideas and product strategies, not just sharing a progress update.
Lack of preparation
The time spent in a product meeting is spent more effectively if everyone does their homework before the meeting and comes prepared.
You’ll have more data to go off when making decisions, and it’s more likely you’ll get a range of new ideas and viewpoints.
Distribute the agenda beforehand, and collect as much data and information as you can to bring to the table. Pull together analytics data, revenue, and usage trends, and even do customer research as it pertains to the agenda.
Getting too caught up in details
As we briefly touched on earlier, you don’t want to use everyone’s valuable time to go back and forth on small, trivial details.
A product strategy meeting is about crafting a high-level vision. Details need to be ironed out at some point, but not now. Keep the focus on what’s important.
Going too broad
At the same time, you don’t want to get too vague and broad. In the end, you need something actionable to take away. It’s easy to see this meeting as a high-level brainstorming session and leave it at that.
The focus, as mentioned, should be on the big picture. But you also need to come away with quantifiable next steps for each participant to work on before the next session.
Product strategy meetings can be amazing tools for your product management team. They can be used to get everyone - the whole company, not just the product team - working towards a shared vision, and to gather input from various sources to ensure you’re building along the right path.
But they’re only valuable if you run them the right way. Poorly run and poorly planned product meetings turn into just another energy-sapping time-sink for everyone involved.
The tips we shared in this post will help you ensure that your monthly, bi-weekly, six-weekly, or quarterly product strategy meeting runs smoothly and effectively.
As a product leader or product manager, you'll be amazed at how your long-term success is affected (positively) by taking the time to execute and plan your strategy sessions the right way.
Use FeedBear’s tools to get more from your product meetings. Our customer feedback portal lets you gather genuine feedback from real customers, which can help you shape product decisions.
And after your meeting, share your insights with customers by commenting on feedback cards and updating your public roadmap, to keep your user base invested in what you’re building.
Try FeedBear free now, and see the difference it makes to your business.