Product Goal is an Intermediate Strategic Goal

The Evidence-Based Management Guide describes not only a Strategic Goal but also an Intermediate Strategic Goal that is needed to evaluate and adapt your progress towards your intended visions of your product.

Reaching strategic goals requires experimenting, inspecting, and adapting

The key to realising an agile mindset within the business is the idea of experimentation and that we don’t know where we want to get to, largely because the future of our business is clouded in the fog of war. There is always a high degree of uncertainty of the future and nothing has illustrated that more in recent times than the COVID-19 pandemic. Every business had to reassess its Strategic objectives more than normal, and normal is often a lot.

The fog of war (German: Nebel des Krieges) is the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one’s own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign. Military forces try to reduce the fog of war through military intelligence and friendly force tracking systems.


Since presenting Evolution not Transformation: This is the Inevitability of change I have come to realise more and more that it is the Business and Executive leadership that is holding back the retirement of the traditional practices that were developed to manage factory workers in favour of those needed to manage cognitive work. Even a cursory look at many of the modern organisations that are able to adapt to business changes shows a far greater success than other more traditionally run businesses. Think Spotify, Zappos, Microsoft, Apple, Google.

We need to adopt the key practices of Product Discovery that is adapted for the modern world. These are:

  • Outcome over Output – In order to reassess our existing management practices we need to ask the question “Does the practice increate our output or outcome?“. Don’t be trapped into delivering lots of poorly made, poorly targets deliverables. You want your smart creative people spending time on the valuable outcomes that change your customer’s behaviour to benefit the organization. Some examples of traditional practices that were developed to maximise output rather than outcome are; Task and Bonus, Departments (Sales, Marketing, HR, Engineering, Test), Work Breakdown Structure, progression through salary and job title. if you are not running a factory during the industrial revolution then you may need to reevaluate the impact of these practices on your desired outcomes. The Standish Group in Boston has an annual report that consistently shows, through data analysis, that traditional project management practices (Prince2/PMI/other) have a negative impact on your organisation’s ability to deliver value in cognitive work like Software, Sales, and Marketing.
  • Investment Opportunities – We still need to budget but instead of traditional project-based that falls into the trap of output over the outcome, we need a new model that reflects Outcomes and Opportunities for discovery that will make our business more successful. This new Budgetary model can revolve around Delivery Teams that represent our investment. As yourself how many teams are we willing to invest in discovery for any given opportunity? Over the course of a year, you may readjust where the Delivery Teams spend their time based on what you learn. Stop investing Delivery Teams time in areas that it is clear that you are not getting an adequate return on investment. Each year we can assess how many teams, in each of our value streams, we are willing to fund.
  • Experimentation – There are no failures only learnings and our goal needs to be to minimise the cost of these learnings and maximizing the success. Short iterative experiments in any investment opportunity. A good example is the Azure DevOps teams at Microsoft where they have ~42 teams that they can invest in Azure Pipelines, Azure Boards, Azure Repos, and other verticals in the product. Each vertical will have its Intermediate Strategic Goal (Product Goal) and a budget of “headcount” (read teams) that they can use to invest in moving towards that Intermediate Strategic Goal, one experiment at a time. If leadership believes that they are not making enough progress in a particular vertical they are free to relocate teams to address this based on market analysis.
  • Hypothesis Driven – To understand the outcome of the experiment we need some sort of hypothesis. This is like an assumption, but with one important distinction; We have a measure that will tell us if our assumption is true. It is the accountability of Product Management (likely as a Product Owner) to validate their assumptions using data and minimise the spend to get there. Running many small experiments where the Delivery Teams create small valuable outcomes that you can test with real users and validate is imperative.

We need to reassess the use of the terms Scope & Failure in light of this new reality and evolve into a lean data-driven organisation based on experimentation and discovery that allows us to adapt to business changes as they arise!

Upcoming Training Opportunities

These are the next five classes we have, and you can check out our full public schedule of classes.

Live Virtual Professional Scrum Product Owner online 8th May 2023
8-11 May, 2023
12:00-16:00 EDT
4 half-days
Live Virtual Applying Professional Scrum in Minecraft on 15th May 2023
15-18 May, 2023
09:30-13:30 BST
4 half-days
Live Virtual Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online on 15th May 2023
15-18 May, 2023
12:00-16:00 BST
4 half-days
Live Virtual Advanced Professional Scrum Product Owner Online on 22nd May 2022
22-25 May, 2023
09:00-13:00 BST
4 half-days

We can deliver any of our courses as private in-house training over Microsoft Teams & Mural. We also recommend training based on your accountabilities or role, you can go directly to recommended courses for Scrum MastersProduct OwnersDevelopers and Agile Leaders.

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Evidence-Based Management


𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗳𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗔𝗴𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗘𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲-𝗕𝗮𝘀𝗲𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 (𝗣𝗔𝗟-𝗘𝗕𝗠) is delivered over two half or one full day(s) and includes the industry recognised 𝗣𝗔𝗟-𝗘𝗕𝗠 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁. It shows how leaders can guide their teams toward continuously improving customer outcomes, organizational capabilities, and business results. EBM focuses on customer value and intentional experimentation to systematically improve an organization’s performance and achieve its strategic goals.

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