Product vision is likely the most undervalued tool in product management. This is unfortunate, as it is an extremely powerful tool. A poor vision for a product can single-handedly cause a product launch to fail. Its effect is often felt in the long term: with a clear and effective product vision, your product can position itself among the best in your market for a long time. Let's see how to define a product vision.
What is a product vision?
A product vision is not necessarily a concrete idea of the future product (or feature to be developed). Rather, it is a strong conviction about the problems that a product will solve in the long term and the best way to solve these problems. The product vision sets a direction and describes how the market and user needs will evolve in the short, medium and long term. This is largely what will make your product stand the test of time and appear as the best alternative to users in the long term.
The product vision is at the very source of a product's design. It emerges from the product team's brainstorming work in collaboration with the leadership team that sets the strategic direction. The vision will guide the product team in each step of development, particularly in the prioritization and roadmap-building phases. In fact, if the vision sets a direction, it also allows for the exclusion of product opportunities that are not in line with this strategic direction, thus facilitating decision-making.
Be careful not to confuse the vision and mission of the product. A vision is not just a mission statement or catchy slogan. The mission statement explains the product's objective to those who don't know it. The product vision gives the direction that will enable the mission to be successfully completed.
Why is the product vision important?
Thinking about the product vision should be an integral part of the product strategy. A product must certainly solve a problem, but it must also convey powerful images and values that stand the test of time. This will create attachment and excitement towards the product, both on the user side and the product team side.
An inspiring product vision serves numerous objectives, including:
Giving meaning to the work of each member of the product team;
Keeping the focus on the customer and their needs;
Illustrating how the product has a positive impact on users' lives;
Being motivated to complete the product development;
Ensuring that everyone works in the same direction;
Communicating the product's value proposition to stakeholders;
Facilitating decision-making in the long term.
Integrating product vision thinking is essential because, without it, it will be difficult to have a strategy and even a product. Note that the product vision is just as important for the launch of a product as it is for each new feature that is developed afterward.
Tips for defining your product vision
Defining a product vision involves deep reflection with the entire product team. It involves multiple iterations and must be based on many factors. Here are the main ones (non-exhaustive list):
Product team capabilities and skills;
In terms of form, the product vision can be written through a table specifying the following elements: the expression of the vision, the targeted users, the resolved needs, the product features, and the benefits of using the product.
Another format, the elevator pitch, formalizes the product vision around 6 elements as follows:
This [product name] has been designed for [target user] who has [problem/need]. Unlike [current practice and/or competition], it offers [major benefits] through [major differentiating elements].
The product vision should now be the foundation on which you will build a solid, efficient, and value-added product. Would you like to continue reading? Click here to discover our blog dedicated to product management.