<title-serif>Creating rituals that reinforce focus<title-serif><title-sans>& accountability<title-sans>
Part 6: We condense the experience of product leaders, a decade of client work and best industry practices into a six-part series of essential habits that organisations can adopt to nurture product culture.
So far in this series, we’ve explored five habits that companies can adopt to nurture a strong product culture.
The red thread running through each of these habits is the understanding that building and nurturing product culture is a company-wide ambition. It’s not something you can buy off the peg or install overnight, nor is it possible to separate from a company’s core mission and values.
Creating rituals that reinforce focus and accountability helps ensure that habits for a strong product culture are indeed habits and not just ideas dabbled in superficially.
Rituals provide structure in the ever-evolving product world
We often talk about organisations as if they are fixed entities. This is far from the case. To us, the companies that exemplify strong product culture grow relentlessly. The ones which continuously innovate and bring new products to market.
The environment these teams operate in is anything but fixed. As products find product/ market fit and success, they grow. As companies pursue new opportunities and expand into new markets, they grow. People join and leave every day. Establishing regular, structured rituals and feedback loops creates empowered product teams.
This habit will allow the teams to operate with high levels of autonomy and minimal cross-team coordination costs (management overhead). They will also be able to provide clear and timely visibility into progress against committed results, thus sharing the learnings from these continuous discovery activities.
It bears repeating that providing strategic business context is critical, as is reinforcing that context at regular and routine intervals and maintaining focus.
A strong product culture requires candid, frequent and familiar dialogues between the leadership and the product teams. Short feedback loops are key to timely decision-making. Product discovery—and the insights it yields—should lead to action.
Setting annual, quarterly, weekly cadences
The Gregorian calendar isn’t going anywhere. Annual cadences for defining and publishing topline company goals and North Star results remain a good approach. It makes sense to launch significant updates to business strategy, and of course product strategy, together.
We recommend the following cadences:
- Quarterly business planning and product strategy reviews provide a regular opportunity to provide new context and distribute and discuss previous results. Fresh insights can be disseminated to inform updates to the product strategy.
- Quarterly cycles of OKRs establish a good rhythm and offer a steady runway to tackle complex problems and demonstrably move the dial on results. A mid-term OKR review during the quarter is advisable—especially for teams new to OKRs—to highlight early any impediments or previously unforeseen dependencies.
- Quarterly reviews of new investment areas are also highly advisable. Establishing a clear innovation process which captures and methodically prioritises ideas from teams and individuals is critical. This is how you move your company from ad hoc and top-down to systematic and repeatable innovation.
- Weekly business reviews— reviewing the leading business indicators (KPIs)—ensuring everyone is connected to the heartbeat of the business and receiving regular context. Weekly product reviews – reviewing the key product metrics and tracking actions and progress against the quarterly commitments (results) – provide a regular view of the product performance.
These rituals are all opportunities to share valuable context, reinforce areas of focus and provide timely feedback.
This is the final of the 6-part series about habits that nurture a strong product culture. So far, we have connected some of the biggest ideas—the concepts that emerge from formalised best practices from product leaders we have spoken to, and our own client work over the past decade.
We hope this series provides an accessible and valuable reference to all product leaders. Remember, nurturing a strong product culture and creating the conditions for continuous innovation is key to ensuring your company will thrive in the long term.
An overview of our six-part series
Part 6: Creating rituals that reinforce focus & accountability