Challenge your product strategy, with three lenses

James Routledge
3 min readNov 5, 2020


Building products that end up being ubiquitous in the world normally requires a number of methods to earn the lofty heights that are your front page app on your iPhone.

Let’s unpick how you can aim for much-coveted 10x metric jumps

Doubling the TAM

Traditionally products are launched into a single home market where the company is based. It then grows based on a single large channel of acquisition. If we ignore the investor Koolaid this normally means that a company has leveraged an insight to buy enough customers to build into product-market fit and is now racing to acquire market one with internal or external dollars over years 1–3 of product lifetime.

The rub comes as the initial channel (plus product virality) start to hit a local maxim.

At this point, the owner of said product will normally default to steps based thinking (what is my next logical move). Sadly, this is going to fail hard, and it’s normally 9months later that the mistake will be caught 😢

Looking at an impact to DOUBLE the number of future users doesn’t hit the 10x sweet spot but does test the approach beyond just the biases of the customer base you know today.

Already the market leader? Great, let’s invert this if you think one market you could fall, let’s make it 10, how does it shift your thinking?

Turning 3-months into 3-years

Products are rarely built for world-wide usage in the first 2–3 years. It normally takes a kind of momentum of thinking change to build a product that can support beyond 10>100M users to achieve this a leap is required

PM’s MUST be clear on whether they are in step or leap mode when making a product feature or growth decision

Products will invariably iterate in steps but the thinking behind each movement should account for at least 5 more moves on the board for it to be deemed strategic. In the case of our strategic thinking, the simplest way to improve your strategy is to apply a 10x figure to your goals. For example, stretch test your roadmap to work in 10 markets instead of the next 2 builds not the only perspective but also attunes your strategy to a level of resilience should you need to hit the gas when the j-curve lands.

The unhappy customer

So many people focus on listening to what customers want, and how to delight. This is a great product-market fit strategy, but most of the really sexy stuff in the product isn’t defined by a customer, it’s by cleverly making a lot of unhappy people satisfied without selling your product soul.

Working out things like abandonment, why competitors are better than you, and who you cannot ever be served today by your product are all really hard problems that require resources for your to reach that billionth user.

Strategies should always account for these large unstructured problems far in advance, start learning about them in year 2 and aim to have them in hand by year 7. Classic examples are cultural. If people don’t have the same social habits how are YOU going to matter in their way of life? For many, this can be a breaking point, but if Facebook can do it, so can you.