The product vision sketches the future product and acts as the shared, overarching goal. To leverage its full power, I use a product vision board. As its name suggests, the vision board is a physical pin board or whiteboard. Here is an example:
The product vision board depicted above contains six sheets. Each answers one of the following questions:
- Customers and users: Who are the target customers and users?
- Needs: Which needs will the product address? What value does the product add?
- Features: Which three to five product attributes are critical for meeting the needs selected and therefore for the success of the product?
- Competition: How does the product compare against existing products? What are its unique selling points?
- Business model: How will the company make money from selling the product? What are the sources of revenue?
- Feasibility: Is the product feasible? Can the company develop, sell and service the product?
Answering the six questions helps establish a broad but clear goal, and it facilitates making an informed investment decision, as I explain in more detail in my book Agile Product Management with Scrum.
I prefer to put up the product vision board in the team room, as this creates transparency and reminds everyone of the overall goal. But if you work on a distributed project, post a picture of your vision board on your wiki or replicate it in an electronic spreadsheet.
Extending the Vision Board
While you should keep the vision board simple and concise, you can extend it by adding important additional information such as the product name, product or user interface design sketches, screen shots, and photos of mock-ups:
Use the product backlog to detail the vision and capture additional information. Display market research data such as personas and scenarios and project-specifc information including the project organisation and the release burndown chart separately. This will keep your vision board easy to understand and focused.
It’s not about the Tool
While the product vision board is a powerful tool, it is only a means to an end: Facilitating a dialogue about what the future product might look like and do. Ensure that the right people participate in this conversation: the product owner, the team members, the internal stakeholders such as marketing, sales, service or operations, and selected target customers and users.
Invest as little time as possible in envisioning the product, and quickly create a first product increment to gather feedback from customers, users and other stakeholders. Then inspect and adapt. As Yoda explains to Luke Skywalker in the movie The Empire Strikes Back: ”Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”