What did I learn about product vision from Radhika Dutt?

Your product is your mechanism to create the change you envision for your users.

Your vision aligns you and your team on the change you want to bring to the world. Your product is your mechanism to create that change — it’s not the end goal in itself.

Traits of a good vision

Your vision shouldn’t be about your aspirations for your organization at all. Instead, your vision should be centered on the change you want to create in the world, your impact.

Center Your Vision on the Problem You Want to Solve

If your vision is about your business goals, you’re less focused on solving the customer’s problem and are creating an opportunity for a competitor with a clearer focus on the customer’s problem to beat you at your game.

When your vision articulates the problem clearly, your team can more easily understand the problem intuitively, and everyone has a clear purpose in solving it.

Visualize the End State You Want to Bring About

To create such a shared picture, your vision must be detailed — a short slogan fails to paint such a clear picture of the world that you want to bring about.

Galvanize Both Your Team and Your Customers

Your vision must resonate with the people whose lives you want to impact, since you want them alongside you on this journey.

This is why you should steer away from vision statements like “To be a leader in our industry” — your customers don’t care who the leader is! They just care that they have a product that solves their problem.

Your vision should be authentic so your team clearly understands the problem you’re setting out to solve.

Crafting Your Product Vision

Until now, the emphasis has been on remembering vision statements. Instead, the RPT way emphasizes internalizing the vision. It creates alignment and clarity on profound questions so that all team members can describe the vision in their own words.

A detailed vision makes the end state clear to your team so your vision is actionable and your team can use it to build the product.

You’ll find that having this detailed vision is handy when you are in a heated discussion or at a decision point. You’ll be able to refer to it and ask, “Are we being true to this vision?”

You should be able to test your vision by looking at different opportunities and scenarios and asking, “Is this aligned with my vision?”

If every opportunity fits your vision, your vision is too broad and you need to add more details to articulate the Mad Libs statement.

WHAT YOUR VISION STATEMENT MUST ANSWER

It must be a group distinguishable from others so you can identify their problem specifically.

When answering whose world you’re setting out to change, list all the possible groups whose lives you’re impacting and prioritize them.

For example, had Lijjat’s vision prioritized consumers’ needs over giving women a way to earn a dignified living, it would have been a valid vision but one that led to a very different end result.

Spreading Your Vision

You can use it in a group exercise to craft a vision as a team — this format helps you stay focused on the content rather than the wording.

You’ll want to review your vision statement as a group regularly. In a more mature market, your cadence might be once six months. In an immature market or a startup, you may find it helpful to review your vision once a month if you’re discovering new things about the market or if it’s evolving quickly.

But beyond participation, internalizing the vision requires developing a deep sense of responsibility for the change you’re creating — you need every person on the team to experience the status quo you want to change.

If the impact of your vision isn’t as easily visible, you may need to create opportunities for team members to experience it.

One technique you can use to create visionary moments is to get team members to observe users struggling with the status quo.

Even if teams can’t participate in live observations, we organize lunch-and-learns where they can watch user research videos.This is a scalable approach to creating visionary moments so teams can see the problem firsthand and how your solution can make users’ lives better.

To accomplish this at scale, Atlassian, a company that builds products for software developers and project managers, often produces a video to illustrate a team’s vision.

You can create visionary moments across the company by helping individuals see users’ problem firsthand and how your solution can make their lives better.

In addition to creating visionary moments, it’s important to help all individuals see how their role contributes to the vision.

To build vision-driven products, we need to have a clear vision for the world we want to bring about. A good vision must act like a signpost so we know if we’re making progress or if we need to course-correct. It sets the direction so that the success of our iterative execution is not measured merely by moving financial KPI up and to the right but by whether we’re bringing about the world we set out to in the first place.

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