Definition: What is a Product Vision?
The Product Vision captures the shared understanding of the goal that is to be achieved with building the product. It is created by the Product Owner (often in collaboration with other involved parties) and guides the Scrum Team(s). It is similar to a North Star indicating where you want to go without the details on how to get there. Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of Amazon) describes it really well saying: “Be stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details!”
Synonyms: What other terms are used instead of Product Vision?
Some people refer to the Product Vision as the Objective, the Goal, the Vision, the Mission. All of these terms are OK as long as the team using them has a shared understanding on what it means to them.
Some teams mistake the Sprint Goal as the Product Vision. These two are inherently different. The Sprint Goal is something that can be achieved within a specific sprint i.e. maximum 4 weeks of work. Based on this, a Sprint Goal is smaller than the Product Vision and every Sprint Goal delivers towards the Product Vision. This is a good test for a Product Owner and their team to assess whether they are moving in the right direction or not.
Objective: Why should you have a Product Vision?
Similar to Working Agreements, a Product Vision aligns the Scrum Team and also the Stakeholders. In contrast to the Working Agreements which capture the “how” we collaborate, the Product Vision is all about “what” we are building and “why” we are building it.
A good Product Vision creates alignment around who the target customers are, what needs they have and/or what jobs-to-be-done we are trying to address, and what our product looks like on a meta level incl. its unique value propositions. In addition, a great Product Vision also states how this product creates value not only for our customers but also for us as a business.
Approach: How is a Product Vision created and used?
There are many ways to create a good Product Vision. Personally, we at Agile Academy prefer systematic approaches e.g. through using a tool. Our preferred tool is The Product Vision Canvas which helps you think systematically about the most important aspects of your Product Vision, and gives you guidance on how to phrase it.
Ideally, a Product Owner co-creates the Product Vision with the Development Team and their key stakeholders in a ½ day workshop. That Product Vision is then used on a daily basis to talk about product strategy, prioritization of items, and roadmapping.