The product vision is one of the most vague yet powerful tools in a PM’s toolbox. A clear and compelling product vision is essential for aligning teams to a shared purpose, as well as attracting new people to your team. How do you create a vision that is compelling enough to resonate and stick in people’s heads? Landis Head of Product Vinamrata Singal shares how to craft your vision to appeal to different audiences with concrete frameworks, tools, and examples to drive alignment.

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On Elements of A Sellable Vision

Vinamrata shared three tangible elements of a sellable vision and broke down each one for the audience. Before that, though, she added a small piece that is vitally important to have before you can get to the vision aspect.

“Before I dive into like all the different elements, I want to throw in a little bit of a caveat, which is, before you go off, and you actually construct a product vision, you need what I like to call kindling. The kindling is really the customer insight or observation or the belief that you have about the product that you’re building that makes it true in the world. It’s not something that you get from just you know, staring at a wall or talking to your coworkers, it really comes from a combination of a bunch of different activities. It comes from going out and talking to your customers really trying to live the life that they live; looking into your data, understanding how customers use your product; understanding your competition and the ways in which your customers view your competition. It’s really a combination of all of the different activities that we do as product managers on a day-in and day-out basis, but really synthesizing that and really being super thoughtful of all of those different inputs in order to figure out what is that one or two or three statements about our customers and the product that contributes to the truthiness of a product vision. …

“These are the three elements of a sellable vision. So the first is on clarity through specificity: Helping people really visualize and very clearly articulate the customer and their problem. The second is compelling people through uniqueness: Helping people understand and see the value proposition. Finally, there’s the galvanizing through open space: Getting people really riled up about your vision by helping them see the vastness of the vision, where they fit in, and how they can not only just visualize it, but be part of pushing the vision forward.”

On Execute the Elements of a Vision

Vinamrata then described some ways each of these elements can be executed through questions and areas to explore to really dial into that vision. 

“The first [element] is clarity through specificity. This really boils down to answering three main questions. The first one is, who is your customer as a real person? This is not just like facts or statistics about them but really painting a picture of who they are as people. The second is, what did their problems look like in their life as it relates to their product, or even just like within their life in general? The third is, what impact is your product aspire to have on their lives?

“The next element is compelling through uniqueness. This goes back to some of the things that we were talking about with the kindling, but it really comes down to what’s a unique observation or insight that you have about your customer that you can leverage to build solutions for them. 

“Then finally, there’s the galvanizing through open space piece. This is actually trickier than it sounds because you really have to strike the right balance between, you want to give some level of guidance so that it’s not totally open and there are no guardrails, and then anyone can do anything and it’s anarchy. At the same time, you also don’t want to be so prescriptive to the point where you’re basically telling people what they should be doing at any given point. So it’s really about striking that balance between giving enough guardrails but not being overly prescriptive.”

On Vision In Action

In this portion of the webinar, Vinamrata shared a vision in action by penning two hypothetical visions, using Airbnb as an example. In the first one, the audience said it wasn’t great. 

“So the first one is that there’s a lot of details that are that aren’t really tied to understanding Nina, in this case, our customer as a person or motivations. …The second is that there’s no clear unique insight that connects to a deeper motivation. So it says here that she finds it difficult to find travel services that help her engage with the best locals to help her get the most out of her travel experience, but it is a little too superficial. Why does this matter to this customer? … It’s not very clear from this in terms of what that actually points to from a human behavior perspective. Finally, it’s too prescriptive, we need more open space, it talks about building like a search engine and filters like that’s too specific at this level of a vision.”

The second example was a bit better. 

“Let’s dive into why this is better than the previous version. The first is that there are some specific details here that help us understand deeper customer motivation. In this case, this is the specific details around the identity of the customer, that they are a person with mixed-race heritage, which means that they’ve had to balance living across two different cultures and makes it difficult for them to feel like they belong in the world. The second is that there are unique insights into why people travel. In this case, it’s around how travel helps us expand our minds helps us find other people to connect with, to belong to a community, and also just experience different ways and different lifestyles of living. Then the third is it’s galvanizing because, again, it strikes a balance of like having enough space, but also giving a guardrail. So in this case, it’s around the community and having experiences that help you engage and learn from others.”

About the speaker
Vinamrata Singal Landis, Head of Product Member

Vinamrata Singal is the head of product at Landis, a Sequoia-backed prop-tech startup guiding Americans with limited income on their path to homeownership. Before Landis, she was a senior product manager at Propel Inc, where she launched the Providers Card, the first debit card for families on government benefits. She's also worked as a product manager at Thumbtack and Google, where she got her start via the APM program. She received her Bachelor's in Computer Science from Stanford University. In her spare time, she loves to write fiction, salsa dance, play tennis, take Peloton classes, and find the best almond croissants in New York City.

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