Why Vision Matters — Leading Meaningful Product Development

Alan Chen
4 min readJul 15, 2023

As someone who loves building products, I was privileged to lead vision definition for various products and problem spaces as a product manager. As a result, I have come to recognize the value of creating and communicating a compelling vision to team members and cross-functional stakeholders. This skill is essential as it can determine a product’s trajectory and ultimately shape its destiny in a competitive landscape. In this article, my goal is to share my experience in vision definition, emphasizing why mastering this skill can be a game-changer for aspiring product leaders who want to build long-lasting impactful products.

Now, product management is a complex craft. It requires a strong grasp of both the market and the end user, balanced with an understanding of technology trends. A product vision can serve as an effective tool for product leaders to articulate these insights to others. A well-defined vision can bridge the gap for team members and stakeholders who may not have the same level of knowledge and context, allowing others to fully understand and support the strategic direction of your products.

Guiding Strategic Decision-Making

A vision plays a significant role in guiding strategic decision-making. It serves as a filter to assess new feature proposals, design options, and even daily operational decisions. Product teams can evaluate if the proposed feature aligns with the product’s vision, caters to the target audience’s needs, and helps achieve overall goals. By referring to the vision, teams can maintain the product’s strategic direction and ensure that their decisions align with the product’s objectives.

Facilitating Communication and Alignment

In large organizations, numerous teams and individuals contribute to the success of a product. However, it’s not uncommon for different stakeholders to have varying understandings of the product’s direction. The vision plays a crucial role in minimizing these misalignments. It communicates the product’s overarching goals and purpose, fostering alignment across the organization. Regularly referring to the vision document can guarantee that all team members are in sync, reducing misunderstandings, and encouraging teamwork.

Inspiring and Motivating the Team

Having a compelling vision can be a great source of inspiration and motivation for a team. It allows them to see the future of the product, the impact it could have, and their own role in making it happen. This is especially crucial during difficult times when the team faces obstacles or when the development process seems to drag on. The vision serves as a reminder of the team’s purpose, which ultimately increases their morale and productivity.

Promoting Customer-Centricity

A vision grounded in understanding the customer’s needs helps the team maintain a customer-centric focus. It reminds the team that the purpose of the product is to solve problems for its users or improve their lives in some way. This perspective is vital in keeping a user-focused approach during the entire development cycle, from ideation to the product’s launch and beyond.

Photo by Miguel A Amutio on Unsplash

Crafting a well-thought-out vision is crucial for any product’s success. It serves as a guiding light that adds life to the product development process, making it more intentional and impactful. It is not just about drafting a declaration of your product’s goals. It’s about painting a vivid picture of its future, grounded in deep customer understanding and supported by advancing trends in technology. Here are four actionable tips to guide you in creating an impactful vision document.

1. Dare to Dream Big

When it comes to defining your product’s vision, give yourself the freedom to think big. The vision is your opportunity to project an ambitious, inspiring future for your product. It should challenge the status quo and push boundaries. Remember, a vision document is not a place for modest aspirations. It’s a stage where you can project the full potential of your product and instill excitement and commitment among your stakeholders.

2. Embrace Technological Possibilities

As you define your vision, don’t constrain yourself with the current technological limitations of your company. Instead, explore the landscape of technological trends and forecast where the technology is heading. Consider how these advancements could enable new features, experiences, or capabilities for your product. By aligning your vision with emerging trends, you open the door to innovation and future-proof your product.

3. Root the Vision in Customer Pain Points

A compelling vision must be rooted in addressing real customer problems — both those of today and those anticipated in the future. Understanding your customers’ pain points allows you to develop a product that provides tangible solutions. It ensures your vision is not merely a pie in the sky, but a focused approach to solving actual challenges. Remember, a vision not grounded in solving real problems runs the risk of becoming irrelevant. Back up your vision with evidence: customer interviews, surveys, data analysis, and market research to ensure your product remains customer-centric.

4. Engage Your Stakeholders

A vision document is not created in a vacuum. Instead, it should be socialized among stakeholders and refined based on their feedback. Incorporating feedback not only helps address potential gaps in the vision but also fosters a sense of shared ownership and buy-in. Regularly engage your stakeholders throughout the vision-defining process, ensure their concerns are addressed, and their insights are reflected in the final vision.

A well-crafted vision is more than just a strategic guideline — it’s the heartbeat of a product. It infuses life into the product development process, making it more meaningful and effective. As a product builder, investing time in creating a compelling vision is a crucial step toward making successful and impactful products that people love.

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Alan Chen

Builder with a passion for creating experiences that people love through technology and design.