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

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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.
  • The Bad. I was a co-founder of Creative Wonders, which we sold…

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Me at Netflix in 2005 (Photo by Michael Rubin)

Short answer: I learned from bosses & peers, including some 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 management 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.
  2. Build your network of peers…

I’m having lots of fun answering daily product management questions on Substack.

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Click here to read my answers or here to ask and upvote more product management questions.

I will return to writing long-form essays on Medium soon, but it’s fun to build a daily writing habit on my new “Ask Gib” Product Management newsletter.

Hit the “subscribe” button on Substack, and my answers will be delivered to your inbox each day.

Best,

Gib

Gibson Biddle

gibsonbiddle.com


Each day I answer questions about product management, strategy, leadership, culture, and careers in my new “Ask Gib” column.

I did more than one hundred talks last year and never had enough time to answer everyone’s questions. So I’m dedicating time to answer one question each day in writing.

I launched a new column on Substack and created a Slido link where folks can ask and upvote questions. Within an hour of launch, here’s the top upvoted question:

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You can ask and upvote questions by clicking here.

You can read my answer by clicking here, and Substack makes it easy to subscribe so you’ll never miss an answer.

I’d love it if you’d ask and upvote questions by clicking here, too.

Thanks,

Gib

Gibson Biddle

gibsonbiddle.com


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)
  • network effects (a large device ecosystem)
  • economies of scale (a $20B annual content spend), and a
  • trusted brand

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…


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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.
  2. Hard to Copy. Netflix’s APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) make it easy to enable features like this, while other companies would struggle. But the stronger hard-to-copy effect is a network effect. …

Sign up for my “Friends of Gib” email list to be invited to test drives of my new virtual talks, workshops, and exec events.

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This year I did 120 virtual events, two-thirds free and one-third paid. I am motivated to help other product leaders through teaching, but also by the pursuit of new ideas. A cool thing about virtual work is that I am no longer dependent on meetups and event organizers. Test-driving a new event is as simple as sending an email to my “Friends of Gib” email list. I love being able to quickly experiment and iterate on…


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

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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.

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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
  2. Further illustrate the strategy models.

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…


And I’m looking for entrepreneurs, product, and marketing leaders to participate in my free, “test-drives.”

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If you haven’t seen one of my virtual talks, I focus on product management, product strategy, consumer science, career hacking, and culture. All of my talks are highly interactive as I combine Google Slides and Slido for highly engaging experiences. I also do lots of “What would you do?” cases about companies you know and love — like Netflix. Sometimes I use Zoom virtual rooms to enable you to discuss cases with product leader peers around the world. You’ll learn a lot and have fun…

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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