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Why you don’t need a product vision!

The product vision is misunderstood and wasted in many product organisations. Often, the product vision is a meaningless paragraph stuffed with buzzwords such as “democratise” or “meritocracy”. 

Some of the best product visions I have come across are from Dropbox and Apple. They are not visions at all but rather concepts. You don’t need the business vision rewritten into a product vision. You need product concepts. 

Great product concepts need to follow some guidelines:

  1. The key to a product concept is it communicates the experience. 
  2. The concept shares how the product is going to change people's lives. 
  3. It does not need to be technically feasible. The concept is not the solution but the underlying idea driving value for a user.
  4. Dropbox famously illustrated this in a short animated video. Others will tell the story with text or video. Pick the best format to communicate the idea.
  5. It must be ambitious and bold. 
  6. Remember, you do not need to deliver the concept. You need to iterate towards it.

So why is having a product concept so important? 

To answer this, let us consider a Momentum program member I worked with recently. At the end of last year, she invested effort in shaping a product concept. Now the product managers refer to the concept when they hit tough questions. This has been powerful and has driven innovation creating differentiation in the market and commercial growth. 

Before they had a product concept, the tough decisions fell back on speed of delivery or customer suggestions, which are valuable but quickly encourage only tactical features. So we don’t want to invest in just tactical features. We want to build strategic value.