CTO to Product planning – What is missing?

Most large organizations have a gap between the CTO group and the Product Groups

55% of the companies struggle to bridge the gap between innovation strategy and business strategy (internet research)

CTO group’s perspective:

CTO organizations are focused on core technology and patents. They tend to focus on fundamental technology problems that products face and how to solution those and, on new technologies that give products the title of the “Firsts”.

For example,  often CTOs are wrestling with finding innovative solutions to how wireless technology in product X is leading to a large volume of consumer complaints. And to how Virtual reality (VR) that uses state of the art ABC technology can lead to the next “first” product.

Product planner group’s perspective:

On the other hand, product planners in a company are focused on creating product roadmaps with the following goals:

  1. Beat the number of awards I have last year
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Launch new versions with something new in it
  4. Something new that competition doesn’t have
  5. What is missing and how can this be fixed?

Individually both sets of goals for the CTO and the product planner makes sense. But then why do we see a disconnect between the two?

Most CTO ideas are not considered; Many new product launches fail

In my experience of talking to many large companies, I have found this to be true.

Often as set goals for each organization, we tend to forget the fundamental goal of any company – To build stellar products that customers need. With that goal in mind, we almost need another entity in between CTO and the traditional Product Planners to do the “Lean” work.

Introducing The Lean Product managers (LPM) group

I am a big fan of Eric Rice’s Lean startup and Sprint from Jake Knapp. These guys have taught the world how to figure out “Product market fit” without building the product.

With that in mind the LPM group should ideally interface between CTO and the Product Planners, working closely with customers and validating hypothesis and backing it up with data.


Output of this group will be a validated output that product planners can now take with confidence.

CTO output goes into one of the two buckets. Pivot or Proceed. They would also get data from customers on what works and what does not.

It is not about the best technology that makes best products, it is about solving the best customer problem makes the best product.

Let me know what you guys think? How does this work in your organization. Do you think this method would work in large organization?

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