This is the foreword to a twelve-part series on product strategy.

That’s me, talking about product strategy in London.

Early in my career as a product leader, I learned to execute quickly, leading to success in building games and children’s software. But two things reinforced the value of strategic thinking for me. One good, another bad:

  • The Good. I learned to accelerate progress by thinking strategically. In building children’s software, I anticipated the value of brands and signed many of them to long-term exclusives. I also learned to appreciate the value of grade-based positioning (Elmo’s Preschool, Reader Rabbit’s 1st Grade) as well as the emerging internet opportunity.


Me at Netflix in 2005 (Photo by Michael Rubin)

Short answer: I learned from bosses & peers, including famous peeps like Reed Hastings, Patty McCord, and Dan Rosensweig. But mainly, I learned by doing, supercharged by feedback from many “Friends of Gib.”

(Note: This essay is from my free “Ask Gib” newsletter on Substack, where I answer a few product and leadership questions each week. You can sign up here.)

Given rapid changes in product management roles and technologies, most of my learning has come from bosses and peers.

To answer this question, I created a list of learning from my thirty-year career. The list reinforces how product leaders can accelerate both their learning and career growth:

  1. Seek high-growth companies. These companies attract talent from whom you learn, plus provide the opportunity for fast-paced, battlefront promotions.


Two Netflix cases illustrate how the DHM strategy model helps product leaders balance delight and margin.

Over two decades, Netflix improved its subscribers’ monthly cancel rate from 10% to 2%. They did this by balancing delight against margin (profit) while building a durable, hard-to-copy advantage. I call it the DHM model: Delight customers in Hard-to-copy, Margin-enhancing ways.

Today, Netflix’s hard-to-copy attributes are:

  • unique technology (personalization, streaming encoding)

A challenge along the way: How do you evaluate trade-offs between delight and margin? When might you choose to lose money to delight customers?

Below, I answer both of these questions…


Disney+ has a shared viewing mode. So do Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. There’s even a “Netflix Party” Chrome extension available in the Google Play store. So, why won’t Netflix launch the feature?

As a product leader, your job is to delight customers in hard-to-copy, margin-enhancing ways. On the face of it, a Netflix Party feature seems to combine all three elements:

  1. Delight. During COVID19, when we all crave connection, enabling members to watch the same TV show or movie simultaneously makes sense. Even more, letting them chat, heckle, and compare notes on the movie sounds fun.


(I’m not convinced that all Medium readers know this.)

Hum. I wonder If she clapped just once. (I doubt it.)

I look through my data, and there are so many single claps. I recognize that the clap on Medium borrows from real-life behavior — you clap more for something you love.

But online, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter perpetuate a one-clap system. So it’s strange to clap more than once on Medium.

Go crazy, clap all you want!

Gib


Applying my strategy frameworks to Netflix today.

Black Mirror’s “Bandersnatch” is one of Netflix’s new interactive stories.

As companies grow, product strategies evolve. Here’s how Netflix might communicate its product strategy today. The purpose of this mock strategy is to:

  1. Demonstrate how product strategy evolves, and

The GLEe Model

Earlier in this product strategy series, I outlined how Netflix hoped to “Get Big,” “Lead,” and “Expand” during its startup phase. Below I have added the company’s current focus, as well as a speculative next step, which may have substantial traction in five to ten years:

1. Get big on DVDs

2. Lead downloading

3. Expand worldwide

4. Original content

5. Interactive storytelling

Like product strategy…


What I learned about giving high Net Promoter Score online webinars over the last year, with accelerated learning in the last four weeks.

Screen capture from my most recent webinar.

Like many, I have moved very quickly from in-person to online events. The challenge is to create engaging experiences when you can’t see your audience, they are distracted (by email, Twitter, and COVID19), and the online tools are both flaky and hard to use.

Below are my learnings from this transition. I describe the tools I use today, how I make them work together and the principles that are common to both in-person and online presentations.

My Webinar Tools

I have been hacking with several tools and have had good luck with the following combination:

  • Google Slides: These are “live”…


How to make tough decisions about products, people, and business.

That’s me, at a “Netflix: Wicked Hard Decisions” no-slides, case study dinner In Montreal.

Three years ago, I gave my first talk at a Greylock Partners event. When I asked the product leaders what they wanted to talk about, one answered, “I just want to know how Netflix made the wicked hard decisions.”

Figuring out how to make tough decisions is a topic that’s always worth revisiting as you develop as a leader. To help you make these decisions more quickly and confidently, I’ve compiled ten decision-making habits I’ve learned over the years about people, products, and business.

1. Ask questions, form an opinion, and engage in debate

Early in my career, the head of product at Electronic Arts asked me, “What would you…


Focus on story structure, engagement tactics, and fast-paced experimentation to give high Net Promoter Score presentations your audience will love.

Here’s a quick 30-minute webinar video I created for product people who want to deliver great product presentations. Here’s the outline:

Click here to watch the video and to download a PDF of the presentation. As always, remember to give feedback using the SurveyMonkey link at the end of the video. I also provide links to a few articles I have written on how to deliver impactful presentations on my “Speaker Tips” page.

Best,

Gib

www.gibsonbiddle.com/speakertips


Plus all the step by step exercises in one place to help you define your company’s product strategy.

I’ve got lots of Product Strategy videos at www.gibsonbiddle.com.

Below are all of the exercises from each of my strategy essays. I have also included pre-formatted Google Slides to enable you to define your strategy quickly. The Google Slides provide all the activities and examples you need, so it’s fine to skip to them directly by clicking here. Some find it easier to read the summary below first, however.

Essay #1: Delight Customers in Hard to Copy, Margin-enhancing Ways

Gibson Biddle

Former VP/CPO at Netflix/Chegg. Now speaker, teacher, & workshop host. Learn more here: www.gibsonbiddle.com or here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbiddle/

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