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How to define a Product Vision: the blueprint for success
“Product vision? I dont see why theyre making me do a series of workshops when everyone knows what needs to be done for this product,” a client told me once. This essential step might not be unanimous (yet), but correctly building your product vision can save you from potential product strategy issues.
Product Vision: Definition
The key term in Product Vision is right there in the name: “Vision.” You can even think of it in a quasi-religious sense, much as Wikipedia defines it: "A vision can be the foundation of a religion and maintain it or renew it, and therefore promote the cultural bond of a community".
Here’s the less esoteric definition of the Scrum Alliance: “The product vision must describe a broad and engaging objective: an objective that guides the development effort but leaves enough room for creativity; a goal that engages and inspires people, fosters creativity and generates buy-in.” -Product Vision, Scrum Alliance
More concretely, the product vision defines the very essence of a product, a product line, or even a company. It allows you to set a cap on this product, a mission. This vision serves as a compass when making strategic decisions, or when choosing the features to develop.
"Will this new feature help my product achieve this vision?" is the question that should guide all your efforts.
Why have a product vision? To give meaning and inspire
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Simon Sinek
Customers will only buy your product for the benefits they receive. It's selfish and ruthless, but that's how it is. So make sure you understand your users' needs as well as possible and as soon as possible, to better highlight the raison d'être of your product so it doesn’t end up in the trash, so to speak.
The product vision creates alignment
The product vision is nourished by 3 elements:
- Business strategy (stakeholders)
- User feedback (users)
- Creativity (teams)
Product visionSource : Hubvisory
Once formalized, the product vision must be shared and validated by all the players mentioned above. But that brings up a key question:
How to formalize the product vision?
If you try to answer these questions about your product, you will see it’s not always simple.
- Who is it for? Who are we making this product for?
- Why? What problem are we trying to solve? What solution do we provide? (to our users, to the world…)
- Why now? How are we going to launch this product? What is its business model?
Here are some tools that can help formalize your vision.
The Elevator Pitch: the vision in one sentence
The purpose of the Elevator Pitch is simple: highlight the key elements of the vision as concisely as possible. To do this, you must complete the following sentence by filling in the blanks:
For (target user) who wants (user need), the (product name) is a (product description) which (key benefits, profit). Unlike (competitor or alternative product), our product (differentiating factor).
To better understand how the Elevator Pitch is used in practice, check out our article on the Agile Tour Lille, where our Hubvisors built an Elevator Pitch with participants!
The Product Vision Board: a canvas dedicated to the product vision
The Product Vision Board is a tool for listing key product vision elements. Its visual aspect and categorization make it possible to put the key pillars of the product vision on paper, which in turn helps you to:
- Clarify your ideas when creating a product vision on your own
- Gather everyone's ideas together if using a collective approach
Roman Pichler has posted a downloadable copy of the Product Vision Board on his site, as well as a video tutorial to grasp all the intricacies.
How do you transform the product vision into an actionable Product Strategy?
Some might say that this vision is too stratospheric. However, my response is that it is actually designed to come back down to Earth.
The product vision makes it possible to build the product strategy by setting objectives and corporate initiatives. The objective is a specific and measurable goal that we set for ourselves. The initiative is how we achieve this objective.
What tools to build the Product Strategy?
There is a “star” tool to formalize your product strategy: Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas.
The Lean Canvas makes it possible to synthesize the hypotheses and the problems of the customers in a single view, but also to see how the solution meets their needs. In addition, it makes it possible to address structural elements of the strategy, in particular the structure of costs and revenues.
Lean CanvasSource : Hubvisory
Here are the steps to complete this canvas.
- What are the 3 main problems we want to solve?
- Are there existing solutions that already or partially respond to these problems?
- Who are the people affected by these problems?Tip: Aim for a specific target and then if necessary expand to indirect customers.
Unique value proposition
- What would make our target customer choose my product?
- The sentence should be short, simple and effective
- A good way to work on the product’s unique value proposition is to use an Elevator Pitch
- 3 top features of my product that would solve my problems
- Acquisition, communication, sale: how to reach my target?
- Salaries, development costs, distribution channels mentioned above: every cost has to be placed here!
- Unlike the previous category, any potential source of income from the product must be noted.
- Used to define the success of your product
- Business metrics
- Usage metrics
- What makes me more likely to succeed than my competitors?
If the product vision and product strategy are clear, you can move on to the next step: Story Mapping, which will allow you to build your backlog.
If you're a seasoned Product Manager, you can even pick up the pace and consider a product.sprint. The principle ? Structure your vision and create your backlog in 5 days.
The product.sprint was created by Hubvisory to develop new innovations, following several observations drawn from our experience:
- On average, two-thirds of a product's features are never used… a poor product vision is one of the major factors in product failure. We want to clean up this mess.
- Development times are increasingly shorter today (MVP and agile methods). Still, between the original idea and the formalization of a strategy, several months can pass. We want to shorten these product strategy periods.
- The other methods such as the “Design Sprint” from Design thinking or the “Sprint 0” from Scrum, respectively lead to results that are hard to apply or limited to the strategic vision. We want to provide a clear methodological framework that can be used by everyone.
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