Laws of Physics Apply to Product
Basic physics - when you apply forces on an object in many directions at the same time, it will either stand still, move to a different direction or simply be torn apart.
Laws of Physics Apply to Products! If you are trying to take your Product to 5 different directions at the same time, most likely it won't succeed and furthermore, it won’t tell the story you wanted it to tell.
What you need is the big and scary F-word - Focus. That thing that forces you to define the direction you are headed to, and moreover, the directions you are not headed to at this point in time.
In our reality, the number of vectors applying forces on the Product, trying to guide it to different places, is like the number of stakeholders the Product has. In many cases these directions are even opposite and there is no right or wrong direction. It is simply that each one of the stakeholders has a different point of view, goals, timeline and the way that the Product fits their plan. The direction of the loudest stakeholder isn't necessarily the right one.
Now I would love to say that for the Product Manager there is no right and wrong in choosing the direction of the Product as well, but that is not true... It is ALL about that! It is all about choosing a direction and making sure it is the right one, the one that meets the defined goals.
Before choosing the most effective route you must actually know the destination
Goals definition is actually the starting point. The Product does not stand by itself and it is a part of the Company, the Product Line or any other higher hierarchy. It is best for the Product to align its goals with the higher hierarchy goals in any given time and place and not with sidelines goals.
Merging with another company, selling part of the business, expending to new geographies, penetrating new markets, dealing with churning big customers, closing couple of big deals, blocking competition or couple of them together, can all be the main story for the company or the business unit. How the Product becomes part of this main story and not just part of spin-off stories pushed by different stakeholders?!
Easier Said than Done
In the craziness of our business it is very difficult. The multiple distractions can actually become noise that prevents it and us from staying in focus.
The best way to deal with that is create a plan and work by it. Planning for long term is better than short term but actually both are needed. A good best practice would be a 3 years plan that is aligned with the high level goals of the organization. It goes without saying that once the goals are changed, the plan needs to change and even without them being changed, the plan needs to be reviewed every once in a while. Inertia is a possible enemy, sometimes you need to stop, think and potentially pivot.
The important output in this regard is that the product is not changed with every bit of noise from the environment and it is kept "safe" and focused by the plan.
Without clear focus, the Product cannot really move forward
The focus of the Product should help meet the goals of the organization it is part of
A long term plan will help keep the Product in focus