Scrum methodology puts product vision statements right at the heart of project management.
At its simplest, a product vision statement is a high level statement that captures both the intention behind the product and the benefit you want to give users.
There’s a clear consensus that organisations and teams who know why they’re doing what they’re doing have a far better chance of success than those who don’t. A vision statement answers the ‘Why are we here?’ question in a nutshell. In doing so, it helps you make better decisions, big and small. It also helps teams have more fun.
Think of a plane journey. There’s a fixed destination – say New York. All the passengers have bought into the idea of New York as a destination. They know that’s where they are heading, and they’re happy. Though the overall direction is set, however, the pilot has to make frequent minor adjustments to the route on the way as he encounters unexpected weather conditions, responds to air traffic control requests, and generally makes decisions about keeping the plane flying safely. But no matter how many of these adjustments there are, the plane ultimately arrives at JFK.
Make better big decisions
The discipline of working through the vision statement process helps you make better decisions as to which ideas to pursue. A good product vision statement describes who the product is for, what it will help them do, and why that’s of value. It should also be aligned with the company vision statement. To survive the vision statement process, an idea must therefore both meet a real customer need and also contribute towards overall company strategy.
Product vision statements also help you make good decisions when it comes to deciding on what approach to take for any particular product. Because the vision statement doesn’t include any detail as to how you will solve the specific customer problem identified, there’s room for open discussion. Decision-making isn’t restricted by pre-set criteria, but can instead be based around how to best meet project goals.
Once the project is underway, the vision statement acts as a first filter when new ideas come along. Does the new idea get you closer to where you want to be? If not, it’s probably not the road you want to go down.
Make better small decisions
Every day, development team members make hundreds of micro-decisions.
When there’s no clear understanding of what the product is meant to achieve and who will use it, those micro-decisions inevitably lack consistency. All too often, the result is a tangled web of ever-diverging activity, with people working at cross-purposes and following their own personal take on what’s needed.
With a well-understood product vision in place, however, everyone is operating within a set framework. Even the tiniest decision can be guided by the overall vision.
Have more fun
A strong shared vision engages people and gets them excited. People care more about what they are doing when they can see a real meaning in their work; when they understand how the product will benefit others, and when they feel part of a team working towards a common goal.
Put this all together, and you get a workplace people want to come to and a team that has more fun.
By building product vision statements into your processes, you give yourself the best chance of creating products of value to the customer and the organisation.