The best Alignment Tools for Product Managers

Alignment Tools for Product Managers

Generating and keeping Alignment across all levels of an organization – from C-level until the single engineer – is from my perspective one of the most important (and often most challenging) for a Product Manager.
And while often suggested a simple change of habits like ‘talk more to each other’ or ‘keep a confluence page about what has been agreed’ are right, they don’t necessarily provide the right level of confidence to a Product Manager to strive at his mission.

That’s why I picked four alignment tools for Product Managers for you to grab for your next product strategy session or product discovery kick-off. Going too much into detail about how they’re used would blow the frame of this format:


Luckily, I have been around at XING when this framework was developed. It is a mix of the influence from Stephen Bungay and Christian Becker and has been evolving through internal forces since then. Check out the full guide right here (original link is currently broken), watch my fellow Product Tank Hamburg Co-Organizer Marc speak about it attend the upcoming workshop around Auftragsklärung facilitated by Christian Becker in April at MTP Engage in Hamburg.

Intermission by Intercom

A simple but effective one pager developed from the guys at Intercom. They managed to integrate all the stuff I like the most around product development (right now): problems first, defining specific measures of success, job stories, and a clear product scope.
Would love to see some writing on the actual usage from the product teams (and stakeholders) at Intercom in the future.

Asana’s Spec Template

Asana’s proposed format is similar to the Auftragsklärung but goes into a bit more detail. For example, it already requires first mocks of the solution – which can be dangerous without giving the right context to your stakeholders. Also, it also provides the opportunity to ‘attach’ (user) research insights.
While this enables a very ‘complete’ picture of the project ahead, I think it’s on the edge of making starting a project or initiative similar to filing a request. It’s meant to be a pitch document to make C level prioritize.

The Product Tree

The best thing about this format is its strong visual aspect. It’s maybe not as sophisticated as the other frameworks above, but it focuses on feature prioritization is its most significant strength at the same time. It ruthlessly forces everybody at stake to develop a shared understanding of what to build next.
Besides, its format is perfect for keeping the aligned vision always visible in the team space.

‘Working Backwards’ by Amazon

While there’s no official material on this framework, it’s widely confirmed and well-known in the product manager community. It’s the result of Jeff Bezos’ approach to cut subjectivity and fluff of product development. The result is a document which shouldn’t exceed a page and a half in length which needs to be provided to meeting participants before, e.g., a kick-off meeting for tackling a new product.
Never used it in ‘production’ but will do shortly.

Which format, framework or result of common sense are you using right now to create and follow-through on alignment within your organization?