You have an insight that you think could lead to a product. Now you need a grand vision to match it. This is where many entrepreneurs and innovators in big companies veer off course. Your new thought is a great start, but it is only the seed of what is to come. There is important work that must be accomplished before it can grow into a great product.
Too many people pick up their great idea and run with it, rushing right into tactical execution. But that is a big mistake. Every great product begins with a great vision statement.
Before you build your product, you must have a true north for where you are going, and then share a compelling story about its necessity and worth. You must start with crafting your vision.
A product vision statement is not a soft and flexible concept. It provides a solid foundation and is the beginning of your strategy. It is the core essence of the product you intend to build — and what you hope to achieve.
The vision for Aha! began with our experience leading product and strategy in six software companies. But I knew we needed more than personal experiences to build a great company. We needed a powerful vision based on deep insight, distilled to its essence, and validated by customers.
You have a big job ahead to make your product a reality. But it is not insurmountable. Here is how you can formulate your own brilliant product vision and convince others to help you pursue it:
Listen to your end users
To create and share a strategic product vision, you must start with your product’s end user in mind. Be humble, recognizing that others may have good ideas or points you have not thought of yet. Listen to everyone’s perspective. They will appreciate that you took time to consider their input and it will make your product vision even stronger.
You will develop clarity for your product vision once you find out who your customers really are, what problem they need solved, and how you will solve it. Understand their motivations and you will really understand them. Then, distill it to its essence in a statement that is short enough that you can easily remember and share it with others.
Write it down
Your vision will be the cornerstone for every goal you set and initiative that you undertake. That is why it is important to record the vision and keep it someplace where you and the team can continue to return to it. Writing it down will help you solidify the product vision and help others to see it and consider it.
I suggest you use the following simple format to get to its essence:
- The (target buyer and user)
- Who (has this problem)
- Will use (name of your product)
- To achieve (the key benefit or value you will provide)
- Because (explanation of why other offerings fail)
- And will feel (the following emotion)
You will not get far without widespread support for your product vision. However, building consensus is not the same as arm-twisting. And not only do you need to help people overcome their objections, you also have to be flexible and willing to compromise. It may take time and a series of conversations to achieve consensus for what you want to build.
The surest way to turn off people is with an avalanche of information. People may be overwhelmed by your big ideas. Simply have a dialogue about your insight and your idea and allow others to ask questions. There will be skeptics for sure, because the “new” has not been done before. Your thoughtful answers will show that you have done your homework and may actually be right.
As you spend more time walking in your customers shoes, your vision will become more clear — and serve as the foundation of your entire product strategy. This may seem like a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it.
At the end of this process you will have much more than a fleeting idea for a product. And you may even have a great team to help you make your idea into a reality.
I suggest that if you follow the steps above you will have a strong vision to serve as the foundation for your strategy and everything to come. And you will always have something to remind you why you got started working on your product in the first place.
How have you created a big vision and explained it to a team?