Product vision is the glue that binds a product team together. A strong vision should inspire and motivate, helping the team to make the right decisions for the product, for the business, and for users.
So, how do you start to define and validate your product vision? How do you make sure it continually serves its purpose, growing with the team and the product? And how do you communicate it to the wider business so everyone is aligned?
In this online panel event, we’ll be chatting with product leaders from Purple and Booking.com about the power of product vision, how they approach vision setting in their organisations, and any lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Whether you already have an established product vision, are starting to define a new one, or want to understand how others are approaching it, watch the full 40m replay below, or scroll to read the transcript.
Meet the panel
Omar H. Sallam, Senior Product Manager at Booking.com
Omar Sallam is a Senior Product Manager at Booking.com, with over a decade of notable experience building great tech products around the world. He is currently working on geolocation Intelligence for the digital travel company. Omar has also lent his talents to others as a Product Management Mentor to aspiring product people and as a Speaker at New Giza University, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, and Product School. Omar has always been extremely dedicated to his craft, giving close attention to every project that passes him by. He brings great insights, curiosity, and strong opinions to his team and is always open to hearing new ideas and learning from those around him.
Holly Donohue, Chief Product Officer at Purple
Holly Donohue is Chief Product Officer at Purple, embracing her passion for building products and developing teams. Holly leads multi-disciplinary digital teams to create world-class products. She has worked across diverse industries building product strategies, teams and processes to deliver commercial and customer value. Holly uses her rebellious spirit and thirst for learning and knowledge sharing for good, transforming ways of working and maturing product, design and engineering teams based on a foundation of collaboration and continuous improvement. As a co-organiser of ProductTank Manchester, she believes in the importance of giving a voice to the product community and the opportunity for knowledge sharing and is a regular speaker at conferences and events.
Anita Leslie, Head of Product at 383
Anita Leslie is Head of Product at 383, with 20 years experience in digital product management leading cross-functional product teams to create great outcomes. She works with teams and businesses to understand the vision and make decisions led by data and first-hand knowledge of customer problems, in addition ensuring it is clear what value is being provided to the customer to drive commercial growth. Anita has experience in all areas of product management and throughout the product lifecycle, from new product development and product market-fit, to product growth and product sunsetting, in B2B SaaS and mobile.
Anita Leslie: Hello, hello and welcome to Byte. The latest in our series of events, diving into digital product. I'm Anita, Head of Product at 383 and I'll be hosting this morning.
Product vision; it's the glue that binds a product team together and a strong product vision should inspire and motivate and help the team make the right decisions for the product, for the business and for the users. But how do you start to define and validate your product vision? How do you make sure it continually serves its purpose? Growing with the team and the product? And how do you communicate it to the wider business so everyone is aligned?
Well, today I'm absolutely thrilled to be joined by two product leaders to chat about the power of product vision and how they go about approaching that in their organisations.
We have Omar Sallam, who is a Senior Product Manager Booking.com. He's got over a decade of notable experience building great tech products around the world and is currently working on some geolocation intelligence whilst also lending his talents to others as a product management mentor. Good morning, Omar. Thanks for joining us today.
Omar Sallam: Good morning Anita. Thank you so much for inviting me. I'm really excited to be included in this discussion and this is one of the topics that I'm really always excited about. So thank you.
Anita Leslie: Absolutely. I know we had a bit of a chat and , yeah, I know you're very passionate about it, which is fantastic.
We also have Holly Donohue, who is the Chief Product Officer at Purple, which is an indoor location services platform. And she's worked across a diverse set of industries, building product strategies, teams and processes to deliver commercial and customer value. And is also a co-organizer, of Product Tank Manchester. So, good morning Holly, and how are you doing today?
Holly Donohue: Thanks very much. Yeah, it's really good to be here today and, , thanks for having me. I'm really, it's, again, it's a topic that's really interesting and certainly one that I know I've grappled with many times over the years, so it's really good to be here talking about it.
Anita Leslie: Well, we're absolutely delighted that both of you could join us today. We also love the audience to get involved in the discussion this morning and at the bottom of your screen, I've already seen emojis like popping up.
So I think people have found that button. But just in case you haven't, , there is a react button at the bottom of the screen where you can, , share how you're feeling and your emoji responses.
But also there is a questions tab to the right. So if there's anything you want to ask our guests, please drop your questions into that chat or upvote anyones that you can see in there that you're really liking the look of.
And we'll have some time at the end of our panel to pick these up. And then finally at the bottom of the screen, , you can also open this session up as an in picture and pop up, so you can actually take us while do work. That's all our housekeeping done, so let's get started.
So, product vision, it seems like such a simple term, but you know, I know speaking to our clients and we know from experience speaking to clients, that it can mean very different things, to different people, different teams, and different organisations.
Let's dig into what we mean when we say those words, product vision. Holly, I'm gonna come first to you if I may. What do you say is that, what would you say is the function and purpose of a product vision?
Holly Donohue: Yeah, so I'd say product vision really is there to provide clarity on the direction that the product is going in. So, it's there to be aspirational. It's not about what you're doing right now and what the product is right now. It's where you want to get to. And it's really there to help everybody in the teams who are working towards building that product, everybody in the organisation, perhaps in sales or marketing who are responsible for selling that product. And even people outside that organisation as well understand what that product is, is there to do and where it's going to get to.
On a practical level, it's there to help understand, or help you make…understand what prioritisation decisions you should be making. Whether that's on the macro level, so what features should we build next, or ideally, what outcomes should we be working towards next?
Or whether that's on a micro level. So, you know, what are all those, all those small decisions that teams will make every day and can't, you know, it's impractical to escalate every single decision up to the CEO - by having that product vision, it's giving you, the team, the steer and direction in terms of what they should be deciding when they're making those decisions.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, absolutely. I can see exactly what you're talking about in terms of that, that sense of direction and where you need to head to. Omar, does that sort of definition work for you? And, and also, sometimes we get that sort of product vision and product strategy sort of crossover. How does that relate? How does vision and strategy relate in that space?
Omar Sallam: Yeah, definitely it relates - Holly put it beautifully. That there is, you know, another way to that I like to say it is that, vision always inspires a strategy and then a strategy dictates a roadmap.
So it gives you this sense of direction, sense of alignment, of heading towards a specific goal and that, as I said, inspires the different strategies that you cascade after each other to reach this goal. So a vision might be something, it's the dream, right? It's the ultimate state that we want to reach. Maybe, we don't know how to reach it exactly right now, but it's well defined and this is where we are heading.
And then this inspires a couple of strategies that are cascading and going after each other. And within these strategies, you start defining actual steps and actual actionable tasks in the form of roadmaps to achieve the strategies and that would lead to the vision.
So that's the connection between those three terms actually: vision, strategy, and a roadmap, from my experience.
Anita Leslie: So the vision is kinda like this bit of a ‘why’, I guess? And then you're saying that's ‘how’, and then the roadmap is the ‘what’ kind of leading all of those things up? If I kind of see it in terms of how you are, you are describing it, that, that, that makes sense.
But when we think about vision, everybody talks about vision. What's the difference, Holly, I'm gonna ask you a little bit about this, if we talked about the product vision, how does that then work with, let's say the wider organisational vision, that the company might have overall, and how do you distinguish between the two of those?
Holly Donohue: Yeah, so I think it's a really interesting question and actually, I think it really varies depending on the size and the stage of the organisation. So if you've got an early stage startup and that startup is based around a product, then actually there might not be a huge amount of difference at that point between the product strategy and the business strategy.
Then if you take a really large enterprise organisation, particularly if it's where the products might take more of a supporting role to the business, then they can be a really big difference between the two.
So I think it's very contextual, this one. So I guess, for example, at Purple, where I'm working at the moment, we're kind of at the scale up stage now, but when we're at the startup stage, early on in our journey, the product strategy and the business strategy probably weren't too far apart because in both of them we're looking at, you know, what, what's the product market fit, ultimately.
So where are the biggest market opportunities? What are those target needs that we're trying to fulfil? Whereas when I was at Co-op previously, one of the businesses that I worked, , as part of with Co-op was funeral care. And the product that I worked on was the website.
So the purpose of the website was really, it was a one of several front doors for the business. So many people would go to the website just to find a phone number for the branch, and then that would be their route in. It provided relevant information to somebody.
So, for example, what to do when somebody dies, and in turn that was about increasing positive experience with the brands and kind of keeping that brand awareness there. And it also enabled people to perhaps start an arrangement if they wanted to do that online, but then that was handed off to an in-person process.
So in that scenario, the product is only a small part of that business strategy. And so the product strategy might be around, you know, some of the outcomes that we're thinking about there is around kind of increasing positive experience, making sure we've got that brand presence, making sure there's that brand awareness and enabling people to start part of their journey with us.
But when you compare that to the business strategy, they'd be looking at what are the different services that we should be offering to people? So it's not just product, it's services as well. Operationally, how are we going to efficiently deliver? So it's looking at how, how do we keep our operational efficiency right? How do we manage across, how do we manage all our costs across all the different branches and vehicles and assets that we have? How do we increase our overall brand awareness of our company?
So in that scenario, the business strategy is much, much wider than the product strategy. And the product strategy is really there to say ‘how is the product going to help us achieve our business strategy?’ So it becomes a smaller proportion of that. I think it's very contextual.
Anita Leslie: Yeah. And, and I've seen that in organisations that I've worked in before and worked with before. I think in the larger ones, you're right, it is a smaller component, but it, you know, it's always, I've always had in my mind that it's got a link to that bigger overarching strategy and you, you kind of try and make sure that you can see the, the. Kind of lining up together. So absolutely get that.
So we've established the purpose of a product vision, where it fits in the bigger picture of company versus, or organisational, versus the individual product itself.
But what does it take to make a really good product vision? So Omar, in your experience when you're sitting there thinking about writing a product vision and, and, and doing what you need to galvanise people around that, what are the common elements or characteristics do you, do you think that make a really strong product vision?
Omar Sallam: You know, there are a couple of things that you should consider. That doesn't mean that the vision statement itself should be very short or very long. It's not related to that, but it's about, you know, the message that you can communicate to to the receiver. So definitely your message has to be very clear and concise about what exactly are you trying to say?
It has to be somehow in inspirational. Because as I said, that's, that's the dream that you're hoping to achieve. I don't think that it should be like conservative, or predictable or something like that. It has to be a little bit challenging and inspiring actually because that is what's gonna inspire your team and inspire your whole company and your whole business into what we can actually achieve.
But it should easily communicate to the receiver that who is your target customer? What customer need are we exactly targeting or trying to serve? What's the product? In which category does it lie? And overall the general value proposition that we are trying to achieve at some point, again, to hit all of these points it doesn't have to be a very long statement.
I know I'm saying like four or five different points that maybe should be covered and communicated, but it doesn't have to be too long. And there are two examples that I really like to give for this.
So, The vision statement for Google, for example, is ‘to provide access to the world's information with one click.’ And to think that this was the vision when they started in the late nineties, where this was like a really inspiring and a challenging goal.
Nobody really understood how to achieve something like that, but it's a very clear statement of what kind of business we trying to do, what kind of product we are trying to do. And we're trying to serve that to everyone, and we're trying to serve this just information, you know?
So it was very clear and concise. It was very, very ambitious. And there's another one, actually, it's not officially the vision statement, but it's what, what they have on their platform for SpaceX.
I'm trying to think about how Elon Musk is trying to raise investments for SpaceX. Even, you know, a couple of years back, because right now, yes, there are a couple of experiments that they did that were successful, but a couple of years ago how to do that. And the vision statement is ‘making humanity multi-planetary’ and that's it.
But it also communicates to you all of these different points of what we're trying to do. Who are we serving? What's the purpose? What are we trying to achieve? So, that's what I meant by also it has to be very ambitious and inspiring, because that will fuel everything. And that would, as I told you, inspire the strategy.
Strategy will dictate what exactly are the tactical steps that we need to do on a roadmap and the actual tasks and everything definitely will help with prioritisation. But the vision statement’s job or main purpose is to inspire.
And that's why I think these factors have to be considered in it.
Anita Leslie: Perfect. Thank you very much. And I guess they're, they're all good positive things to include in there. So you're thinking about the customer, you're thinking why it's important to them. You're thinking about what is the, you know, what is the purpose? What is the reason for this product, for living? Why does it need to exist? What's life gonna be like when we get there? How is it gonna be different? How's it gonna be better?
You know, Holly, on the flip side of that, you know, what are the common ‘gotchas’ that you wanna avoid? Those pitfalls that you need to come to maybe that teams will find when they're trying to divine that product vision?
Holly Donohue: Yeah, so I think, I guess the first thing is obviously tying back into something that Omar’s just said around making sure that it references that customer value. I think it's very, very easy for companies to think about the value that they want to deliver to themselves. So, you know, we are, we're gonna be the biggest provider of great software in the world. It's very easy to come up with these big, sweeping statements. We're gonna be the best at what we do. But very quickly the customer value gets lost in there.
So really, I think the first really key thing is thinking about what is the actual value to the customer that we're trying to deliver? And you know, in a lot of the statements that Omar’s just kind of mentioned where you've got the Google vision and Amazon had a similar one where it's all about the value that you're going to deliver to the customer. It's not about the value that you're delivering to the organisation.
So I think that's a really key thing to start to focus on because I guess, if your vision is very insular focused, everything coming down from that: if the strategy is ‘how are you going to deliver the vision?’ Your strategy is going to forget the customer. And if your roadmap is about how you're gonna deliver the strategy, then your roadmap's gonna lose that focus as well. So you've got to start with the customer and the customer need that you're trying to fulfil.
I think another problem is not involving people in coming up with that process, because I guess, yeah, the biggest pitfall really, you write your vision strategy, sorry, you write your vision statement and then it, that's it. It just sits on a shelf somewhere, gets forgotten about.
We've all seen that happen and know that where you spend ages coming up with this vision statement and then maybe it gets dusted off once a year at like the kind of annual meeting, and that's it. And it's not an integral part of what you do.
And I found a really good way of helping avoid that is to involve people in the process of coming up with it and involve stakeholders in the process so that everybody's actually bought into it. There's ways you can do that, which means that you still can, cause it can be quite scary actually opening it up to everybody and saying, “everybody, we're gonna come up with this.”
But it's very kind of organisational contextual as well in terms of who you would involve in that. But if you've got a very kind of open culture, then it might be, we, I've had sessions where around sessions with the different groups of teams, so people who wanted to take part in it, could take part in it.
So I think we had three separate workshops for people to come up with a statement. And then we had a workshop with the exec as well. And then we pulled all of that together. Took all that output to craft division statement and then that worked really well because everybody felt like they'd had that say in it.
Whereas if it's just one person in the room coming up with it, then it's hard to get that buy-in because people don't feel invested because they don't feel like they've had a part of that. So I think that's really key as well. Going back to that set, forget piece, I think. Not coming up with a way of embedding that in everything you do.
You really have to, it's not enough to just think of a vision statement. You really have to think about how are we actually going to actively make sure that this is something that stays top of mind and forefront of our minds? Where are we gonna put it? Is it gonna be in meetings? Are we gonna refer to it in our documentation?
Is it gonna be when we're doing our prioritisation, How are we gonna make sure that we're constantly looking at this?
Anita Leslie: Yeah, no, I agree with you. And I love the comment you make about making them, and then they sit on a shelf somewhere and that's, it should be active and part of every discussion that you have, so people know what it is and I can absolutely resonate with that.
And I guess then, kind of following on from that, Omar, as a product leader, how do you get the whole team aligned behind that product vision and driving in the same direction? Because we've just said how important it is?
Omar Sallam: Yeah, I think that Holly had the perfect answer for that though, of what she just said. As just at the beginning to make sure that everyone is involved in creating this vision. So whether we're talking about a product manager who's leading a specific team, or, someone leading a whole business and is representing product, like a CEO for an early stage startup. Yes, definitely they would have their own ideas about what the vision would be.
As the owners of that vision, that's definitely an effect. But that doesn't mean that the vision should be built with their own opinion. It has to be a team effort. It has to be discussed and brainstormed within maybe even a series of workshops, maybe not just one workshop. Because that's the cornerstone of everything that this team or this company are gonna be working on for at least a year.
So, in order to have this buy-in to gain the excitement of the team and to make sure that they're all aligned on one goal, they are excited and really passionate about one goal, it needs to be a group exercise to define this vision.
And, also because even if someone is innovative enough to come up with a new idea to define this vision, still the input of the other leadership team that they decide, they should be included, is really valuable. They have other perspectives. They have also different experiences, different backgrounds that could feed into this and cross-validate the hypothesis of the thoughts that are forming this vision.
So I think this is, you know the main step of getting everyone aligned is to include everyone in actually the vision creation at the beginning. And also that exercise extends to building the strategy that is inspired from that vision, and so on.
And, I really think that can be a little bit easier within a bigger structure of an organisation because if you're just leading a team or leading a domain or whatever the level is, you are still within a structure of cascaded vision already or cascaded strategy that you are getting some inspiration from, and then you start adding your own thing because you're specialised in a in a little piece.
But I think it's a little bit tricky in the early stage startups, and it's something that the founders or co-founders of some companies and startups need to be really aware of that and to fight their own biases towards believing in just their opinions or what they think about, because they are the ones that originally thought about this idea. And, they need to focus more on refining and the visions that they have with the support of the teams that they have started building and forming.
For both things to get everyone aligned and, as Holly said, to get the buy-in and to get the excitement and passion of the team to make sure that they are also building something that they totally believe in and they're totally passionate about.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, no, and I think definitely bringing your stakeholders in and having them sort of your immediate stakeholder, depending on the side of your organisation, having them involved in the process definitely gets them bought into where you're heading and everybody starts to have that vested interest in what this product is going to be and the vision of where it's going.
So we've talked about, I guess, product vision and how it's important to the product team and also maybe those, some of the immediate stakeholderswithin the business. But, what about the kind of the wider business, including those super senior stakeholders, depending on the size of your organisation, right? How do we get them connected? Holly, and I'm also thinking beyond that in terms of they might be investors, right?
So, are there techniques or strategies that you found to help sell that vision into either really super senior stakeholders or to those third parties such as investors? Holly, what's your thoughts on that?
Holly Donohue: Yeah, so I think importantly with some of this, it's understanding that actually, the definition you might have in your head of what a product vision is, might be different from the definition that those people have in the heads of what a product vision, isn't it?
I say this out of painful experience because I've definitely had experiences where you take a very product approach. So we get our vision canvas up or you're kind of very much thinking about what's the problem that we're trying to solve and actually, as a product leader, one of the first things you're often asked for when you first join an organisation is, right, we want the product vision! But actually what I found was my senior stakeholders and the board, they weren't expecting the same product vision that I was. They were expecting ‘these are the features that we're building, this is what the product actually looks like.’ So I think the really key thing is actually firstly really get to the bottom of when, if you're getting asked for a product vision or you need to sell a product vision to those external people, make sure that you're aligned in terms of what that means. Whether that's speaking to your CEO about it or if you can speak to people on the board or investors even better, but you might not be able to do that, so you might need to speak to people in your organisation who are close to those people.
Because if you go in with a very different idea of what that product vision is going to be to what they expect, that immediately is likely to cause friction and likely to mean it's less well received. So if, and then if your definitions of that are very different, then you need to find a way of answering the questions that they have and the things that they're expecting to see whilst perhaps at the same time trying to seed the direction you are wanting to move it into.
So, you know if they very much have got that very kind of, and it is very, very common, I think it's fair to say that ‘I want to just see what features you're building. That's my idea of product vision. What features are you building for the next year, two years, three years?’ then you need to start to show them some of that and be prepared to show them some of that, whilst also at the same time, Start to bringing some of the other pieces that maybe you want to show in terms of this is actually the vision of where we're going and the, the people that we're building for and why, and the needs that we're trying to fulfil. So you kind of need to do, if you do both alongside each other, you can start to get people used to talking about product vision in a slightly different way and over time move it more and more towards that kind of outcome led approach and that kind of approach where you're actually validating those needs and validating the vision. So that can take time.
So I think, yeah, that's definitely been a key learning for me is making sure that you understand what your stakeholder's expectations are, because product vision is one of those things that many people have different interpretations of what that actually is and what that means.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And I think you, I knew you are kind of, you're bringing back memories for myself, Holly, in terms of people thinking, yeah. I walked in exactly doing the same thing into very senior stakeholders with like, this is where we're going. This is where we're heading. And they, what they wanted was a roadmap. And I was like, okay, so learn very quickly, got a socialise, test it out, understand where they're coming from, and it is that mind shift that you've got to go through, through giving them a little bit of what they want, but also making sure that you're, you're shifting them in into the right direction of, okay, but we are thinking more about being outcomes driven and how we're, how we're moving the needle on certain metrics. And that's when all of that also comes into play. So I can visualise all of that, quite nicely. Thank you for that.
And Omar, I'm just very, I'm just intrigued as to how do you approach keeping, you know, we're, we are doing things for senior stakeholders, we're trying to keep them them occupied and make sure they can see how we're progressing in terms of what we're doing on a high strategic, more of a strategic level. But then we're also trying to do-the-do, in the day, right? So how do you keep that vision in focus on a day-to-day basis?
Omar Sallam: It's about this secret sauce of balancing between what you deliver for different sides and different levels of stakeholders that you just said. And, I don't want to be just repeat most of what Holly said, but it's really about setting the expectations on different levels of, and different types of, stakeholders that you're trying to deal with.
So with every stakeholder, you start, as you guys said, also understanding how they interpret and how they understand the vision and what is a vision? What is a strategy? What is a roadmap? What kind of deliverables and so on. What are they expecting first and how they started to do that.
And then you go in with your, ‘okay, but here is what I think and here's what I offer.’ And then you try to reach a common understanding and maybe, you know, the definitions and expectations can be different between a stakeholder and another just because they have a different interpretation or based on their level they're expecting different information or data or deliverables.
So if we're talking about senior level or leadership level, they expect things to be more holistic and be more quantified, for example, than more operational stakeholders, for example.
So, if you lay this foundation of what is everyone expecting and how you can do all of this, you would be able to design it within your overall strategy that is inspired by this vision as we talked about and then you can start delivering for everyone consistently.
And then that will dictate the roadmap naturally, because you would know that within this timeframe you are trying to reach this kind of impact for your customer, but it’s also important to deliver this to this specific stakeholder or to deliver that, to this business partner and so on.
And that's the secret balance of all of that goes into your prioritisation formula. Because all of these foundations that you're trying to lay and all of these alignments and expectations management is basically your way of putting together your prioritisation matrix.
So definitely the most part of it is what kind of impact you're trying to give to your end customer, because customer is everything, as we've also said in this session. But also you need to balance these business considerations and stakeholder considerations. So by laying these foundations and having these discussions, you start forming the different variables of your prioritisation formula. And this is the strategy that is inspired from the product vision. That's why I say it already dictates the roadmap because it comes as a natural result of putting all of these things together.
Anita Leslie: Thanks so much. I've got some questions if I may now, from our wonderful audience. So one of the things I think, and this was quite an intriguing question, and there's a number of votes for it. So we talk about a vision, right? How would you communicate that? Would you communicate that in words, illustrations? What's the best way of bringing that to life? Holly, I'm gonna ask you what's, what's your experience?
Holly Donohue: I mean, if you're going for the kind of classic definition, usually you do have that vision statement. So it is usually kind of ideally a fairly short passage and not, because if it's a really long paragraph, it's hard to embed it in people's thinking and keep people's attention. So ideally it's kind of a short, snappy statement.
But at the same time, it depends on your stakeholders. So if you've got stakeholders who are expecting that kind of feature led approach, actually it usually works very well to show images, whether that's kind of mockups of what things might look for, that can be quite helpful as well, whilst you're kind of striking that balance between being more outcome led and being feature led.
So I'd say, it very much depends on where you are as an organisation and who your stakeholders are and what they're wanting to see. But generally I’d always advocate for, if you were working with senior stakeholders, they tend to be visual and they tend to respond very well to visual, tend not to want to see really long documents with lots of text, they're very busy people don't have time for that.
So I'd always bias towards backing things up with images, particularly if you're dealing with a senior audience.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, and I've done exactly the same before now, in terms of just trying to give them that visual representation of what this thing could look like. It may not look like that, but it gives them that sense of, oh, okay, I can now physically see what. what you might be striving towards. Sometimes that's, that's really difficult to do, but, I get, I'm absolutely with you in terms of making sure that we have a really good, robust statement that covers the why and who the customers are and what, how their lives are gonna be better once they've started using our product.
And then sometimes I've followed that up with, with an image as well.
When I think about, we've just talked about a whole raft of stakeholders, but who actually, one of the questions we got here, who actually owns that product vision? Who is accountable or if you wanna use that racy terminology for actually making sure there is one and that it exists? Omar, what's your view on that?
Omar Sallam: I would say that definitely the owner would be the product manager, whether it's for a product team or if we're talking about early stage, then it's the CEO because CEO represents product because they own the vision, they own the main idea and that makes them accountable for the vision. But being accountable means also being responsible for this inclusion that we've just been discussing - that your vision has to be validated. It has to be vetted and it has to be the hypothesis behind it has to be a hundred percent backed up with evidence and so on.
You are owning this vision and you are free to do whatever you want with it, but you're also responsible for making it a valid vision and a vision that everyone believes in.
Anita Leslie: Yeah. I hear that as well. Yeah, I'd agree. And it's interesting, isn't it, again, depends on the size of the organisation as to whether that is the CPO or whether it's a product manager.
Omar Sallam: I think that this applies to any kind of level, whether it's a CPO or just a, even a junior product manager and a very, very specialised feature.
The vision is, yes, his ownership, but his also responsibility to have a valid and validated vision.
Anita Leslie: For sure. And I guess, you know, we talk about the vision and it being, you know, this sort of big, hairy, audacious goal that you mean we're driving towards or something that we can see in the future, a state the way we wanna be, or where we, where we believe we'll be delighting our customers.
How often though, should we kind of go and test that back and make sure it's still valid and right? Holly, what's your, what's your view on that?
Holly Donohue: So I think ideally that's something that will happen, if you've got, if you're kind of embedding continuous discovery practices in place, for example. So if you're constantly, regularly meeting with your customers, regularly reviewing the markets, regularly thinking about what is it that we should build?
It's that kind of two-way process. So, you know, setting a vision, we often think about, you set your vision and then that feeds into the strategy and that falls down into your roadmap and then that goes into the kind of really micro decisions about what that feature actually looks like. But actually it needs to be a two-way path.
So also as you're doing that discovery work, that should be feeding back up into your strategy and then feeding back up into your vision potentially. So I think, ideally, a vision statement is something that's not going to change, the actual vision statement itself is ideally something that's not gonna change all the time. It's something that should be forward thinking enough that it's gonna be relevant for a decent period of time. But you should definitely be taking the things that you're learning in discovery and taking the things that you're learning from releasing products as well, and what happens when you've released that product.
Validating that your assumptions that you've made around the vision and the assumptions you've made around your strategy are actually correct. And if not, adjusting accordingly.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, no. And I agree with you, it should be something systematically that you're, constantly discovery, you're constantly just checking it in, making sure we're, we're heading in the right direction, and do we need to expand that, pivot that, and so, and as you, you quite rightly say.
When it comes to another question we've got here, which is when it comes to making your product vision a reality and, particularly investment is needed, in a business, and I guess you could also be going and asking the board for investment in an idea or that product vision that you've got.
How do you best position the product needs over competing departments? So it sounds like somebody's here might be jostling for funds, between other departments such as marketing and sales. When it comes to that investment. Is there a way of making your case, I guess, for what you've got in terms of that product vision and reality? Again, Holly, maybe I'll come to you on that one, knowing that you've been involved in investments before?
Holly Donohue: So it sounds like, if you've kind of come up with a new product or an idea for a feature and you need investment, I think the key thing to do is to understand what do those stakeholders or what are the people that you are proposing that idea to, value?
Because, it'd be very easy for me to give a very product based answer and say, well, you should explain the value that it's going to deliver to the customers and the value that it'll deliver to the business. But actually, you can't always logic your way through some of these decisions because they're actually, they're quite human emotional decisions as well.
So I think a lot of it is understanding that person who's a decision maker, what do they really care about? How can you sell it in a way that they're gonna actually listen and care about, because, if you just sell it in a way that's important to you, it might not be the same as what's important to them.
So I think and also think about who else influences them? So if, if they're not, if for stakeholders who is a bit more distant from you and it's harder to get access to, who do you know that does have their ear? And who do you know who's close to them? So can you speak to those people, understand a bit more about that stakeholder and what they value from them, and also see if they can help you influence as well?
Get them bought into the vision and help them influence as well. So yeah, it's, you, you, your kind of stock answer is very much to think about what's the value that it's going to deliver in what's the projected revenue? What's the projected impact to stickiness? Or, whatever that metric is, that is important in that scenario, but I think on a more human level, it is about thinking about what is really important to that person and selling it to them in those terms.
Anita Leslie: Yeah, I agree with you. A lot of it is also about, you know, you, you quite right, you say it's about understanding people and their perspective and their thought pattern, so that you understand how they might, where their head’s at and if you can unpack that, then it'll help you articulate what that vision is or help them actually maybe contribute to that vision, because that might enrich the whole process. Thank you so much for that.
Unfortunately, that brings us to the end of our panel for today. I think are, we could have gone talking on about visions and how we make that work and how you bring people in and along on that journey, for much, much longer than we have time for today.
But all that's left for me really now to say is a huge thank you to Omar and Holly for taking time out of your days to come and chat with me this morning and to you, our audience, for joining us as well and submitting your awesome questions.
I hope you've enjoyed watching this session as much as I have in taking part in talking with Holly and with Omar.
Please look out for the replay in your inbox later today, so you can play it back and have a little bit more of a mull over. Some of the things that we've discussed and think about how many, maybe you can adopt them into your practices.
Our next Byte event will be coming up in May. So please follow 383 project on LinkedIn to hear more about that.
Finally, you can also listen to some of our past Byte events and learn more about our digital product thinking on the 383 blog at 383project.com.
Please enjoy the rest of your day and we look forward to seeing you at the next Byte. Thank you.