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E83: The Importance Of Vision And Mission Statements For Your Product

by Sean Boyce

Many product problems come from a lack of vision. Let’s talk about vision and mission statements.

Without a clear vision for your organization and a mission for your product, your team will get confused.

Let’s talk about how to set them and see some popular examples so you can better understand the value here.

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Episode Transcript
Hey folks, Sean here and today what I want to talk

to you about is how to realize your product vision.

So more recently, I’ve been working with a few clients

and helping them realize a vision for their product.

Now there’s a number of variables here.

There’s vision statements, there’s mission statements.

I want to talk about subtle difference

between the two of those and those

can be set at the organization level.

They can also be set for your product.

Now the way I typically like to see it

done is setting the vision statement for for the

organization and a mission statement for the product.

And I like the two to support one

another, as in if you are making progress

towards the mission for your product, that should

support the vision for your organization.

That’s the way I like to see them connected.

I think they’re really important for keeping your team on

the same page about what you should be doing and

how you should be making the world a better place

with what it is essentially the purpose that you’ve set

for your product and then the vision for your organization.

Now this isn’t always set and when I run into

some issues with the clients that I help building and

scaling product companies, I end up finding that this is

one of the problems that I run into fairly consistently,

as in the vision is somewhat unclear.

There’s also some confusion back and forth between what

is the vision of the organization versus what is

the mission of the product or vice versa.

So I want to talk about some examples of those

and then how you should leverage each when you’re going

about making positive change at your product organization.

To help with my research on this topic,

I’ve had a number of conversations with Chat

GPT, which has been very helpful.

I’ve incorporating that more and more into my routine

and I’d encourage you to do the same.

But as part of that, I started focusing on

some of the largest, more popular organizations out there

that are relatively well known, like Google and Microsoft.

And I started researching both their vision mission

statements for both the organization and their products.

As such, I want to describe kind of each

for you as an example which would help you

figure out what yours should be for your product.

And then I want to talk about how you should

ultimately realize progress towards them because it’s not just important

to have them, it’s important to understand how to leverage

them and how to realize them and when they should

come into play when you’re going about trying to improve

your product and succeed at your organization.

So when I looked up for Google how it

would define essentially Google’s vision statement, the example that

I came back with is create a world where

every person has access to the information and the

opportunities they need to succeed.

So that’s the vision statement and if you realize

from that example, it’s a pretty lofty goal, right?

And it’s one that isn’t

necessarily all that obtainable.

Like we might want to cure world hunger

or end homelessness or something like that.

These are characteristics, I would say, of a solid vision

statement as and it may not be something that is

easily achievable, but it is a lofty but a monumental

goal if it’s something that you can achieve.

So it’s a future state that you

want to desire to make progress towards.

I know Lexus at one point had

the passionate pursuit of perfection, right?

So if you think about that or you’re breaking that one

down, lexus may be desiring to build the perfect car.

Are they ever going to build a perfect car?

Probably not.

How would we even know someone

had built a perfect car, right?

But I like the idea and the

concept of that being the goal, right?

If you’re trying to achieve or you have the

passion pursuit of perfection in mind at all times

in the work that you do, then that means

that if you come anywhere near that, you’re probably

going to produce some pretty impressive results.

Now that’s the vision statement.

Now again, I recommend a vision statement being set

largely at the organization level and I think the

members of your organization should understand what that is

and then be willing to support it.

It should be something that makes sense and much of

the work, if not all of the work that you

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do at your organization to support progress towards that vision.

So at the same time, I wanted to dive

a little bit deeper and specifically talk about an

example of what might be a mission statement.

But mission statement I would recommend kind

of being set at that product level.

So not necessarily the organization, but again at the

product and then the product in particular I’m going

to share with you, since I shared that as

a vision statement is Google Search.

So from the search engine, the mission I would

say for the Google search product, as I found

in the research that I did, is to provide

the most relevant and useful information to users.

There are different variations of that but you

kind of get the idea there, right?

And what I find particularly helpful about

the mission statement set at a particular

product level is it more specific to

what you’re doing and managing that product.

And if you are continuously making

that product better, it should enable

you to continuously fulfill that mission.

As in, you know, at a static point

in time, you may currently have the best

product that’s capable of doing that.

But as technology evolves, as things in the

market change, as more products become available, you

will need to continuously be making progress in

order to be realizing and fulfilling that mission,

right, to support that grander vision.

Now that’s some examples of each.

What I want to talk to you about as well

too, is how to leverage these in the work that

you’re doing with your team on a daily basis, how

that can help clear up confusion and what it looks

like when you’re able to achieve those results.

So having a vision and mission statement for both

your organization and your product will be critical for

ensuring that your team remains on the same page

as you’re, trying to make your product better and

enable your organization to become more successful.

If you don’t have those, you’re likely to introduce

additional confusion into what it is you’re doing on

a daily basis and the progress that you’re trying

to build towards in the long term.

So if you haven’t set these, set

them, but set them as a team.

It should be a collaborative effort because you want

to ensure that your team can get inspired and

get behind both of these concepts as well too.

If you have set them, reevaluate them and make

sure that your team understands and believes in them.

Because if they don’t, it’s going

to introduce additional confusion, right?

Just because you’ve set a vision or mission

statement doesn’t mean that your team has acknowledged

the fact that that is valid and legitimate

in terms of what your organization is actually

doing and what your product actually is.

Without these, a lot of

that confusion can be introduced.

That’s what it looks like.

When you don’t have them and you don’t

have consistency of agreement amongst what you’ve set

them at, that can really lead to a

ton of problems in trying to make progress

for your product and ultimately your organization.

Now, when you have set these and it is

working, what you will see is you will see

an operation that works very well together.

As in, there isn’t a ton of confusion.

There isn’t confusion around role clarity.

Who’s doing what.

Everyone knows their role.

They’re supporting the larger effort.

They’re supporting each other’s, team members.

And we’re all making progress collectively as such with

some of the clients that I’ve worked with before

who either haven’t had these or they have had

them, but they have not been particularly well aligned.

That’s one of the things that I help them with.

I help get those back aligned with what

they should be so that the team can

be inspired by them, rally around them, and

then we could start making progress towards them.

So if you haven’t invested in this as an

exercise as a team, it’s certainly well worth it.

It might just clear up any of the confusion

that you may be having from anywhere from the

product development process to user research to customer discovery.

It’s going to help you with all of that because the

mission and the vision should be clear for your team.