Product Launch

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

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 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.