Product Vision is something to challenge, not to cherish

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Everybody loves the Silicon Valley TV series. Mainly because it portrays our life so accurately. Have you ever seen any of the episodes? Take elevator pitches for instance. We meet a lot of clients on their way to deliver a product and every time they tell us (just like in the Silicon Valley TV series) their product does just the same thing, mainly – it saves the world. Or makes it a better place. Or at least – a little bit more bearable.

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Claiming otherwise seems to go against some unwritten rule. It sounds great, and reportedly works wonders for your motivation (and ego) but, at the end of the day’s work … what does it actually mean? In work-relatable details? Does user persona want to save the world?
What does it mean to us- your highly skilled, cross-functional product development team?

As a Product Owner, you spend a lot of money on hiring a great team of specialists. But for some reason, after that grand vision, you give them a set of features as a solution. You try to give them your idea for the product as something decided and finished. They shouldn’t be treated as a set of remote hands. Data says that average IQ amongst developers is much higher than the general average. What it means is that it’s unreasonable to treat them as soulless machines producing code by the hour.

That’s why we understand Product Vision as something to challenge, not to cherish. Product Owners are very attached to their idea of a product and they don’t really entertain the thought that other people (designers, developers, users) could challenge their product idea or give them insightful and honest feedback.

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Product vision, therefore, should be a set of information about the product and the users’ needs and motivations. Not a set of features. Every need is a problem to solve in a novel and fascinating way. And, even more important, Product Vision is your business. This is your product strategy, a path which should bring you closer to your aim. If you know in detail what your product market is, how you plan your business development in revenue areas, and finally how your product users will be changed during your product growth, then you can feel that you are well prepared, that your team has good grounds to challenge.

How can we collect all this vital knowledge about the product? It’s time for our Product Strategy Workshop which aims to kick-start your solution validation and product definition activities. The second goal is to build unity of understanding of the Product Vision (target user persona, strengths, weaknesses, values).

Have you ever imagined what your user persona looks like? It’s surprisingly popular to have a very wide user group…let’s say between 18-55 years old. Is it really possible that such a vast group of people might have the same expectations and needs? It may have worked in the latter days of mass production of unified goods, AKA during the 60’s, however, the market has changed since then…Your user has a name, age, look, and a hobby. She or he is a real person. If it’s hard for you to specify, just remember your business goals. Without this knowledge, it will be very hard to achieve them.

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The team should be the first group of people to fall totally in love with your product. Do not give them solutions for your users’ needs. If you know how to solve the problem why do you need them in the first place? Try to discover it with them, they have big potential, they are specialists, they believe in your product as much as you do. Any idea should be confronted, proven, tested, verified with as many people as possible. Is all this technically feasible? Every decision you make gives you insight – clarifies your priorities.
It’s all about the user, so guess by all means, but ask the user as quickly as possible! Your user is the best tester in the world.

 

The text was created in cooperation with: Katarzyna Oruba - Product Owner at Chilid and Michał Fopp - Marketing Product Owner at Brasswillow.