Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Strategy development doesn’t naturally live in any organization. So where should it live?

By Mark Helfen

Where should strategy live in your company?

The job of strategy development for your company “doesn’t naturally live in any organization,” says Rich Mironov. So where should it go?

Mironov will be speaking at the April 12 SDForum Marketing SIG meeting on the topic “Where does/should strategy live in your company.” He is a principal at Mironov Consulting, and the author of the book The Art of Product Management.

Mironov clearly has a soft spot for people with the title “Product Manager,” who should own the process of developing company and product strategies, describing them as “the concentration point”, “the rallying point,” and “the organizing principle” for the development of a company’s strategy.

But where should a product manager live in the organization?

In his experience, they actually live all over. In companies he has examined, one-third live in marketing, one-third in engineering, and one-third in “other” – somewhere else in the organization. Product strategy development doesn’t seem to have a natural home.

Whichever organization its part of, the resulting strategy can appear to have a bias based on its place in the organization. If the strategy is owned by one department, “it will fail.”

So while there is no natural home, it has to live somewhere. Larger organizations can have separate strategy groups, but for small startups and mid-sized companies this isn’t affordable.

It’s critical that even for startups that haven’t shipped their first product, a corporate and product strategy is developed.

If a startup doesn’t have a good strategy, “every sales call with every prospect disrupts the strategy,” putting companies in “thrash mode.” A good strategy helps small companies from being buffeted by “pseudo market input,” which is my candidate for the phrase of the month. Each piece of new data can be considered, instead of forcing the company to react instantly.

Ultimately, strategy development is a process, not a deliverable.

Monday night’s presentation will help you bridge the divide between the reality that strategy development has to live somewhere, and the ideal that it’s a company wide process responding to the requirements of every business function.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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