Product vision

What is a product vision?

The product vision is nothing more than an understanding of what your product will look like in the future. How will it achieve the objectives of the company that owns the product while solving problems and needs for its users?

LOCAWEB EMAIL PRODUCT

During my time at Locaweb, we put together the following product view for the Locaweb E-mail product:

CONTA AZUL PRODUCT VIEW

We created the Conta Azul product vision as an image, because with the image it was easier to explain all the elements that we saw as the future of the Conta Azul product.

GYMPASS PRODUCT OVERVIEW

Again, we prefered a picture over words. The saying a picture is worth a thousand words has a reason for existing.

Product vision creation process

Here is a step by step on how to create the product vision:

  • get the strategic company objectives: if you don’t have this information yet, go get it. Talk to company leaders, the CEO, the founders, the board. Of course, every company wants to grow and have more revenue and customers, but how? What are the company’s goals, and what is the strategy to achieve those goals?
  • get an understanding of customers’ problems and needs: if this is still unclear, there are several tools that help. In the chapter on Vision and Strategy of my book “Product management: How to increase the chances of success of your software” I mentioned empathy and personas as useful tools to obtain this information. There are several other tools such as observation, interview, research, job to be done etc. Anyway, there are several tools for you to obtain this information.
  • draw the first version of the vision: once you have both information, you can already make the first version of the product view. This is a creative job and is more productive if done alone. I already tried to do this work together with other people and the process ended up taking a long time and the result was not so good for having several people discussing something that didn’t exist yet. Based on my experience, it is more productive and produces better results when the head of product makes the first version and, from there, iterates to collect feedback and refine the vision.
  • iterate and refine: once the first version of the product vision is done, it’s time to iterate and refine the vision. First people to iterate are the people on the product development team. PMs, GPMs, designers, engineers. Listen to their feedback and refine the product vision based on that feedback. Then, present to the leaders of the other areas, managers, directors, c-level, founders, advisors, more feedback and refinement. I prefer to do these feedback and refinement sessions individually. Although it takes more work and time, it gives everyone the opportunity to speak.
  • communicate: after the iterations and refinements of the product vision in 1:1 sessions with stakeholders, the next step is to communicate this vision to the entire company and even outside the company. This must be done repeatedly. At every opportunity, remember the product vision. I usually use the product vision at all possible times. All-hands, product, board, onboarding meetings, etc. I even use it publicly in lectures and articles to explain how we see the future of the product in our company. I also use it in conversations with candidates, to help them understand what we are building and to encourage them to join us.
  • review: it is important to review the vision periodically, to check if all its elements still make sense and if something new needs to be included. My suggestion is to do this review once a year, or when something new appears, like a new competitor, or some change in the market.

Summing up

  • Despite being only 10% of a product leader’s time, defining product vision is his most important responsibility. Without a product view all the product development work is much more difficult.
  • The product vision is nothing more than an understanding of what your product will look like in the future.
  • To make the product vision it is necessary to be clear about the company’s objectives with the product, as well as to deeply understand the problems and needs that customers have and that will be solved by the product.
  • The 6 steps to build a product vision are to obtain strategic objectives of the company, gain understanding of the problems and needs of customers, design the first version of the vision, iterate and refine, communicate and review.

Missing something?

So, did you miss something in this chapter? What else would like me to cover?

Digital Product Management Books

Do you work with digital products? Do you want to know more about how to manage a digital product to increase its chances of success? While you wait for new book, check out my Digital Product Management bundle with my 2 books where I share what I learned during my almost 30 years of experience in creating and managing digital products.

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Joca Torres

Joca Torres

2.5K Followers

Digital product development advisor, coach, and board member. Also an open water swimmer and ukulelist.