how to make product strategy—the first principles framework

first principles is the only way to create product strategy

every other way will miss the point of origination of desire for your customers

which means if you miss first principles you will be looking at mimetic clusters of users which are not your early adopters

and these mimetic clusters will not make the boat go faster

because if you spend effort on these mimetic clusters, they will incur unreasonable cac and have little to no retention

using first principles will help you discover the right mimetic clusters

these mimetic will make your boat go faster

you can only discover these mimetic clusters using first principles

these mimetic clusters will have high retention

these customers will forgive all your ui/ux mistakes simply because the value they get from your product is worth it for them to

these people are your 1,000 true fans

they are your most potent salesforce

here’s how first principles will let you discover this group of people for your product

let us take 3 examples

Facebook—why do you think people were checking Facebook multiple times a day in the early days?

because people are curious

just like you are curious about your high school crush even today

I am too, let us practice some vulnerability

it feels so good

by saying this, I think I am inadvertently setting in motion, a lot of profile views on Facebook

so just like you are curious about people who are a part of your tribe

your tribe of grade school

your tribe of grad school

your tribe of the company you first worked at

as you can see

this is the heart of the matter

first principles have guided you and me to this insight

curiosity about people who are similar to us is the core product value of Facebook

which puts core product value at the heart of the equation

valueprop == core product value

yes what you see is a double equals

it is an assertion operator used to check if both variables on either side of the equation are exactly the same, bit by bit

imagine you are making product strategy for Facebook

if you are following first principles, you will want to find the #1 most important cohort of people your customers will get most value out of if they joined Facebook

this will be different for each cohort of existing users

for instance, for people 16-21, this is people their age in the same neighbourhood in the same school and so forth

for people 21-27 , this will again be people of their own went to the same grad school and work in a similar industry and so forth

for people 27-40, this will be a similar situation

as you can see, using first principles, we have discovered a pattern

people are curious about people who are similar to them

if your users find more people like them on Facebook, NPS will be high

let us now take the example of Linkedin and let us keep it very short

imagine you are working at Linkedin in the early days

you will ask yourself, what makes people join LinkedIn?

-> so they can network with likeminded professionals

you will then ask yourself, why do people want to network with likeminded professionals

-> so they can know how what the industry is optimizing for

okay, you will then ask yourself, why do they want to know what is the industry is optimizing for?

-> so they can see which skills are growing in demand

okay, you will then ask, why do they want to find out which skills are growing in demand?

the answer will be, so they can gain those skills

well, why do you think they want to gain these skills?

the answer, simply, is so they can do more fulfilling work at the same company or find a new place to work

this directly translates to economic opportunity

this will lead you to conclude, if you can make it so that people who join Linkedin end up with better economic prospects

your product will have a high NPS

hence, all your efforts, ui/ux, engagement, retention must be aligned with this goal

you can figure this out for other products as well

for twitter do you think the core value prop is expressing one’s opinions?

you should do this for your product too

this will move your focus away from the trivial many

this will move your focus towards the vital few

this is only the first part of the first principles framework I will share with you as we go

Author: Usman Gondal

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