Which stakeholders need to have buy-in for your product strategy, and how do you approach creating alignment?
The only stakeholder that must have buy-in for your product strategy is the one accountable for the results of your org or area. That may be a C-level exec or VP or GM or a discipline lead. Once they believe in the strategy as the best path to hit their goals for the business, what remains is largely a communication challenge.
Keep in mind that getting alignment with your primary stakeholder may require you to get the approval of multiple other stakeholders along the way. For my thoughts on how to do that, see the first question on the list.
The stakeholder list is very different for every company. Each dynamic is different.
Approach leaders in 1:1s BEFORE you make a pitch. Ask about their team strategy, what they think about the company vision, etc.
Run ideas for strategy by them and get there feedback informally, ahead of time.
Bake the results of that conversation into a presentation so they feel represented.
This is a great question! Product strategy is only as good as those who believe in it and choose to follow it.
First, product strategy is typically best when it is aligned with company and business mission/goals. So, I usually seek alignment from the executive group with my longer term strategy first. This is typically done by creating a pitch deck for my product strategy that follows a 5-6 slide format of: market pain point/user research, market size & serviceable market, competition, where we are going (long-term roadmap), and how we are going to get there (short term direction). I will incorporate any feedback into the deck from this audience first.
Second, I will share this V2 strategy deck more locally with teams working on products and PMs and ask for their feedback. Specically asking for areas where I could add more relevance and then incorporate some of their findings and research into the strategy. Typically it helps to add their feedback to help get buy in.
Third, I will share the V3 strategy deck with external to product and R&D stakeholders like the field teams. I will ask questions like "what is missing here" or "how hard or easy would this be to sell". At this point I would usually add a slide around "Monetization" or "Field enablement" to capture any narratives needed to support the field.
These three steps really help build iterations along the way, but also foster a sense of inclusion and deep understanding of direction in the product strategy.