(2020-08-04) Cagan Product Vision Vs Mission

Martin Cagan: Product Vision vs. Mission. The product vision is one of the most important and highest-leverage tools for tech-powered product companies.

There are two very common confusions:

Confusing Vision with Mission

  • They are confusing a slogan about their purpose, with a product vision.
  • The problem is that this is not a product vision, and most importantly, it doesn’t address the needs of a product vision.

Having Each Product Team Create Their Own Vision

  • This of course completely misses one of the key purposes of the product vision, which is to provide the common “north star” so that every product team, no matter what area they are working on, understands how their work contributes to the larger whole.

The issue is not the terminology. The issue is that empowered product teams have some very real needs that have to be addressed, if you want to have true empowerment, and a team of missionaries versus a team of mercenaries. And a mission statement simply doesn’t address these needs.

The product vision should describe the desired state 3-5 years out for software companies, and 5-10 years out for device companies.

An inspiring and compelling product vision serves so many critical purposes that it is hard to think of a more important or higher-leverage product artifact:

  • A good product vision keeps us focused on the customer.
  • A good product vision serves as the North Star for the product organization so that we have a common understanding of what we are hoping to accomplish together.... (and more)

I don’t think I can name a higher-leverage tool for a product organization. Admittedly, a good product vision is a bit of an art form, as fundamentally it is a persuasion tool.

When done well, the product vision is compelling, inspiring, and empowering.


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