Understanding Product Vision

Attention: Product Management Newbies!!!

For the sake and intent of this (and future) posts, I’ll assume you already know what Product management is about and the reason you’re reading this now is because you’re trying to figure out how to navigate the role. If my assumption is wrong, this is a good place to find those answers.

Now, as a budding PM with no experience on the job, your typical struggle is knowing what your Point A is on this journey. Sometime ago, I attended a Product Tank Lagos session on Inheriting a product. During the session, one of the facilitators asked what we thought was the proper modus-operandi for when you stepped into a new PM role. I went blank for a minute. My mind was like, “um, start work?”

Thankfully, that was a while ago, and now I’m here writing this post so you don’t have to be as clueless as I was in that period.

So, it’s your first day into that PM job that you finessed. It’s time to find out what you’re really getting into. By this, I mean find the Product Vision, aka the ‘WHY’.

The WHY is always a good place to start. The Product Vision is the overarching reason that the product exists. It speaks to the problem that you’re trying to solve with that Product as an organisation; the impact you hope to have in the lives of the demographic that your product serves. Think of it as a destination you hope to reach; a North-star that unites your team and guides all of your decisions going forward. To further break it down, let’s use a common example-Amazon.

(Enter Amazon and it’s vision statement)

“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

When you analyse the statement against Amazon’s services, you find that everything ties into providing a global marketplace. Want to buy groceries? Amazon Pantry. Want to fix your car? Check Amazon Garage. Whatever the service, it ties into the vision of giving people a place to buy anything online. You can read more about Amazon’s interestingly diverse, yet vision-compliant services here.

Sometimes, depending on the organisation and at what point you come in, the Vision has been documented, so it’s easy to find and follow. If it hasn’t, please, dear friend, as the Lord said to Prophet Habakkuk “Write down this vision; make it plain, so one may easily read it.”

There are several tools for creating a Product Vision on the web. However, make sure to engage in conversations with your internal stakeholders (CEO, Managers, the Product team, anyone that has insight, really) before you create one. It will be of no benefit to create a vision that no one else keys into. It is also possible for the company’s vision to be separate from the Product vision. This typically happens in where there are several products or services in one company. It is essential to make sure that while these two may be separate, they align.

This is also a good place to say that getting into a community of Product Persons is genuinely helpful to help you understand basics such as this. If you want to join one or learn more, ProductDive does a great job of curating even more detailed content for you. No one is an island, and the right community makes the journey a lot more fun.

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