Why Having A Product Vision Is A Must

24 August 2016 | Anikh Subhan | About a 3 minute read
Tags: Academy, Agile, Product, Product Management, Product Owners, Scrum, Software, technology, ux

What is a Product Vision?

A product vision is an overall goal for the product. It’s generally a long-term strategic direction, that articulates where the future of the product lies. It conveys what you’re aiming to achieve, for the users you’re targeting. There are a few templates out there, but this is my preferred one.

So why is it worth investing time in creating a Product Vision?

1.  Motivation

Having a vision for a product improves a team’s morale by giving them something to aim for. Dan Pink says in his talk and book titled “Drive” that according to behavioural research, when a team are set a challenge or a goal, their levels of motivation increase. This is due to the sense of purpose people gain by knowing why they are doing what they’re doing. Clearly this is a key ingredient for any team, not just software delivery teams.

2. Clear direction

How do you effectively prioritise a workload? How do you know that the user story you’re about to work on is the next most important thing? The art of prioritisation is not an easy one, but is made possible by having a clear direction for the overall product. If we know where we are heading with it, it’s easier to make decisions about what should or shouldn’t be focused on. These tough decisions are made slightly less tough by having a Product Vision in place. Everything in the backlog should help you move towards/ achieve the vision. If there’s something in the backlog that does not do this, then how valuable is it compared to everything else?

3. Enables innovation

When a team are involved in creating a product vision, it often results in new ideas being generated. These ideas are the result of analysing and brainstorming the different components of a product vision, for example, the target audience, their needs and the business goals. Delving deeper into these areas allows for people to think outside-the-box, and not be restrained to particular solutions. Additionally, many creative minds are better at coming up with ideas than just one creative mind!

4. Shared ownership

When we think about what else makes a team effective, another factor is having a common goal. A central product vision acts as this common goal. It’s the promised land that the team are setting sail and navigating towards. The journey that they will take there is somewhat unknown in the early days, but at least everyone in the team knows which way they need to steer. Ensuring a common understanding of the vision brings about a sense of collective responsibility or we’re all in this together. When the team feel they have an input to the future success of the product, you gain their buy-in, which brings results. When the crew need to keep the ship afloat and moving forward, they will work closely together to get where they need to get to. This collaboration is potentially the most valuable trait in a team.

In Conclusion….

….The product vision is an effective method to bring the team and their ideas together in the initial phase of a software delivery process. However, it doesn’t end there. The vision is always evolving. It’s dynamic and needs maintaining. It’s worth checking-in with your vision at intervals throughout the lifecycle of your product. Use feedback, analytics and insight to adapt your vision continuously, so that you’re always delivering the right thing at the right time.

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