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Applying the 3 Horizons Framework to Product Management | Michael Rutledge

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Presented first at Product Tank, a division of Mind the Product, in February 2019.

Product leadership often requires developing the most compelling vision for a given area, balancing execution needs with demands from senior leaders to constantly innovate. To embody this duality, leaders must not stick in the operational weeds with incremental optimizations. Rather, she/he must balance the long term future horizons to ensure opportunities are not left to the side. The 3 horizon framework, originally developed by McKinsey strategists, provides a guideline for how leaders can think of this balance that must occur between small optimizations and long term vision. This balance is critical not only for product success but also to inspire and motivate teams.

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Applying the 3 Horizons Framework to Product Management | Michael Rutledge

  1. 1. © 2019 Michael Rutledge Product Tank Feb 2019 1 Applying the 3 Horizons Framework to Product Management
  2. 2. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 2 I am Mike Rutledge Hello!
  3. 3. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 3 3 Horizons Framework As companies mature, they often face declining growth as innovation gives way to inertia. In order to achieve consistent levels of growth throughout their corporate lifetimes, companies must attend to existing businesses while still considering areas they can grow in the future. The three horizons framework provides a structure for companies to assess potential opportunities for growth without neglecting performance in the present. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/enduring-ideas-the-three-horizons-of-growth
  4. 4. © 2019 Michael Rutledge Working in Product with LexisNexis, I was introduced to classical innovation theory. 4 My Journey in 3 Horizons Horizon 1 Innovate on core products for litigation attorneys Horizon 2 (my team) Horizon 3 Innovate with an adjacent customer segment, corporate & transactional attorneys Innovate in white space including facebook chatbots for case research
  5. 5. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 5 Amazon Approach to Small Bach Iterations Within Audible Amazon, traditionally strongly incremental. We needed numbers for every iteration. ITERATION EXAMPLES 1. Better readability of top text and “refine” increased in better search conversion in 2-3 days effort 2. Improved filters enhanced findability in many cases 3. Membership steps increased the entire retention funnel, leading to one of the most successful single iterations in company history
  6. 6. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 6 Audible “Think Big” Product leadership challenged us to think & test into where it’s going - to “think big” Start with a vision, grounded in data. Member vs. prospect usage, browse depth per purchase, search vs. browse behavior Research included rapid prototyping with customers and design hackathon Break the overall goal down into executable chunks • Changes to the order of elements on the page • Design system changes • Changes to how audiobooks are produced and stored Iterate to bring it to reality over time
  7. 7. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 7 Applications to Product Management 60/40 mindset: Spend 60% of time on execution of current sprint (Horizon 1) & 40% split on next 2-3 sprints (Horizon 2) and 1-3 years out (Horizon 3) Design & Analytics deep dives: Leverage design and data analytics, with engineering to support the horizon 2 & 3 explorations. Rapid prototyping is critical to validate approach Vision document: Create a tactical vision / strategy document that you review with leadership every 3-6 months. Make sure the goals are aligned with business objectives Reinforce wider mission: Frequently reinforce with your team how the work they’re doing in the current sprints bring us closer to the 1-3 year vision
  8. 8. © 2019 Michael Rutledge 8 Common Pitfalls Focus too much on incremental OKRs are achieved but they’re not towards real business success Spend too much time on big changes that are unvalidated and the team can’t build them Thinking that OKR metrics alone are inspiring to the team 1 2 3 4
  9. 9. © 2019 Michael Rutledge Thank you!