Breaking the Product Growth trap with a clear product vision

Product Vision

“A man without a vision is a man without a future. A man without a future will always return to his past.” (P.K. Bernard)

Why have a vision?

We have all heard the statement “no pain no gain”, but all too often this is not enough. Why would we want to engage in pain in the first place? 

The pain, in this case, is the blood sweat and tears that you have shed to get your software product out there. The countless hours of body, mind and soul sacrifice that got you to this point. Also, we know there will be some kind of gain, but what does that gain look like? How do we envision that bigger and better future? What talks to our heart so strongly that allows us to lie down our precious time, energy and money, to change the world?

“Your vision needs to give the pain you are solving a purpose.” (Kris Vallotton)

Your vision needs to describe the bridge between the present and the future, in such a way that you have no choice but to push through any difficulties.

What is the vision?

Vision is what we see, and vision is also how we see it. 

What we see is often the easy part. For example, I want this new feature and this new function available by next month. Typically a customer has urgently asked to have this new capability and will say that they will renew their subscription if you deliver it.

When it comes to how you see it, this is where you could have that scratch on your glasses. Your vision is seen through the scratch, which is not what others see, but only what you see. 

What is your scratch? What is holding you back? For example, you are not sure what you stand for anymore? Your decisions have become muddled. Maybe customers are losing trust in your product roadmap​, and your capability to execute.

Vision is not just having a vision, but it’s staying the course. It’s no good having a vision for a flat stomach and then you quit a few months before realising your vision. The full result oftentimes, comes right at the end, as a result of consistently investing in your product. Many companies are moving to weekly updates of thier product, or even daily, and in some cases continuously, the moment an update is ready.

How to create a vision?

There are 3 parts to a vision, foresight, insight and oversight

1. Foresight

Is like looking at your software product through a telescope. It’s your outlook. It connects your vision to that new bigger and better future.

It’s about what is really on your heart, why did you get into business in the first place making this product. What is your long-term strategy?

2. Insight

Is like looking at your product through a microscope, what is happening with your technology. Why are things breaking? Why can’t I make the changes that I want to make, and why can’t I make them quickly?

In other words, what is the short-term strategy that will make life easier for you and your customers right now?

3. Oversight

Is about putting everything into context. It’s about understanding the times we live in, being up to date with the latest technology skills and wisdom needed to orchestrate your short and long-term strategies in a way, that delights your customers

How to realise your vision?

Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counsellors, they succeed  

Proverbs 15:22 & 16:1

Firstly a vision kept in the dark is a vision that will stay in the dark. Visions are best kept out in the light and discussed and consulted on with others.

Secondly, goals need to be set to reach your product’s vision. Goals are simply the vision broken down into smaller pieces that are measurable in time and space. In ‘Value Engineering’ the linkage of the product vision with the technology delivery is designed to give customer value and business revenue. This combination provides value – without this clear linkage the product is developed, successfully, but doesn’t resonate with the customer.

Finally, A product roadmap helps you to understand the steps that need to be taken for each goal to realise your vision.

Conclusion

As the business owner, you are most likely also the product visionary. Being both is the hard part, switching constantly between what do customers need, what does the product need and how can the technology meet those needs, and then also how do I consistently stay on track?

I often see companies where the charismatic leader has the product vision in their head, but this is not structured in a way that other members of the team can work with. Having someone to translate that vision, into the product roadmap, and then the technology backlog helps give the vision the foundation it needs.

You will want a product vision and product roadmap that empowers and directs your teams short and long term product and technology strategies that consistently and confidently builds trust with your customers.

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