So Where Are We Headed?
Product visions are mini-vision statements that product managers use to articulate a product’s purpose, and with it, product strategy. They serve as a north star. They should be aspirational, actionable and achievable. But that’s not all.
Imagine a product team that’s left without a guardrail. Not only will efforts be misdirected, but the product team risks expending resources on things that don’t add value. Worse, think of how things will play out if all departments responsible for the product’s success don’t have a common goal.
Product visions do not dictate ‘how’ a product is going to be built or ‘how’ the product will go to market or ‘what’ features are being considered. They simply convey ‘why’ the product is being built.
The product vision helps pull together various departments and stakeholders necessary to drive the product forward and in a direction that benefits the business and customer.
Product visions are very similar to positioning statements. Just as positioning statements are meant to guide branding and marketing decisions, product visions are intended to guide product development. These vision statements should tie neatly into the companies overarching vision.
Product visions typically reference the product’s target group, identifies pain points and how the product offers a solution. Where applicable, it may reference the competition and indicate why the product is the better choice.
[Target] + [Pain Point] + [Solution] + [Point of difference]
How do they work in practice?
Consider the product team at an in-flight entertainment company that studied commuter satisfaction levels with regard to existing onboard music entertainment. Let’s assume that they discovered low usage levels because listeners were not appreciative of integration options, limited playlists and a cumbersome interface.
A potential product vision could be framed as, ” To air passengers looking for audio entertainment options that make their journey more comfortable, our product empowers them to exercise personal preferences. It does so intuitively while offering them more choice unlike existing systems that appear restrictive, outdated and difficult to navigate.
The vision does not mention what features are to be incorporated, but sets the tone for discussions that follow to discover them by alluding to the product vision.
The product vision unifies the entire organization around a central purpose and keeps everyone on the same page. If a feature does not help solve the problem, exclude it and focus on what does.
Qualities of a good product vision
- Specifies the ultimate goal
- Simple to understand
- Addresses the pain point / opportunity
- References the point of differentiation
- Allows for future product developments.
When developing the product vision it is imperative to make it a collaborative effort. When the product vision is finalized, it must be shared with all stakeholders and serve as reminder for all those working on it. This ensures that the teams are focused on what matters most. Remember, the Achilles heel in product management is ‘solitude’.