Creating a Powerful Product Vision – Insights for Technology Product Managers

Product Managers

By Joshua Burgin

In the technology industry, product managers (PMs) play a key role in shaping innovative and successful products. A strong product vision not only unifies teams but also inspires them to achieve remarkable results. It also becomes the driving force that sets you apart and positions you for greater responsibilities within your career as a PM. In this blog post, we will delve into the art of creating a compelling product vision, exploring strategies and insights that will empower you to lead with vision and propel your products (and career) to unprecedented heights. So, buckle up and prepare to embark on a journey that will transform the way you approach product management.

We will explore four essential concepts that will empower product managers to shape their product vision with precision and effectiveness. These concepts include embracing healthy fear, adopting a holistic perspective, creating an environment for innovation, and biasing towards progress. By mastering these principles, product managers can navigate the dynamic landscape of technology products and deliver exceptional value to customers. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets to crafting a compelling product vision:

    1. Embracing Healthy Fear: Fear, when channeled in the right way, can be a catalyst for growth and success. However, it is crucial to differentiate between unhealthy fear, such as paranoia and FOMO, and healthy fear, which fosters clarity and curiosity. Unhealthy fear leads to chasing after every deal or feature, distracting from the overall vision. Healthy fear, on the other hand, keeps product managers grounded, preventing complacency and driving relentless curiosity. It urges them to remain attentive to customer needs, even when feedback seems positive, and ensures they do not miss opportunities for further growth. By embracing healthy fear, product managers can maintain focus, continually refine their strategies, and stay ahead of the competition.
    2. Adopting a Holistic Perspective: Product managers must embrace the wisdom of Rabbi Hillel’s famous saying: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” This quote encourages product managers to think like owners and consider the broader interests of the company. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me” highlights the importance of personal drive, vision, and execution. It reminds product managers that they are responsible for energizing and inspiring their teams. “If I am only for myself, what am I” emphasizes the need to wear the “company hat” and make decisions that align with the broader organizational goals, even if it means prioritizing the company’s needs over specific product initiatives. Finally, “if not now, when” urges product managers to have a bias for action and pursue speed in execution. Swift delivery and adaptability allow for more experimentation, which leads to greater insights and success in the ever-evolving technology landscape.
    3. Creating an Environment for Innovation: Innovation thrives in an environment that encourages experimentation and embraces the iterative process. Rather than striving for a single perfect solution, product managers should prioritize taking action and trying multiple experiments. This approach allows for quicker adaptation and learning from failures, without the fear of enduring excessive collateral damage. It is vital to understand that competitors are continuously evolving, and complacency is a hindrance to progress. By embracing a mindset that values speed and experimentation, product managers can seize opportunities, gain valuable insights, and outperform their competitors.
    4. Bias towards progress, not perfection: In the pursuit of creating a remarkable product vision, it is crucial for product managers to prioritize progress over perfection. An insightful anecdote comes to mind, where a photography professor conducted an experiment comparing two groups of students: one that took 100 photos and another focused on capturing a single perfect shot. Surprisingly, it was the group that embraced repetition and experimentation that produced higher quality work overall. This story highlights the transformative power of repetition in nurturing skill development and fostering innovation. As product managers, it is essential to embrace this concept, recognizing that the pursuit of perfection can impede progress. By shipping often, embracing iterative processes and learning from each iteration, product managers can acquire the necessary skills and insights to deliver truly exceptional products.

Creating a compelling product vision is instrumental in the success of technology product managers – both for the job you have now, and to grow your skills towards owning larger product portfolios, divisions or even becoming a CEO one day! 

By embracing healthy fear, adopting a holistic perspective, fostering an environment for innovation & biasing for progress – product managers can drive their teams towards delivering exceptional products. Remember, fear is not always a negative force. When harnessed effectively, it can serve as a driving factor, propelling product managers towards continuous improvement and innovation. With a clear and visionary approach, product managers will be well-equipped to navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology products and drive their organizations and careers towards sustainable growth and success.

About the Author

Joshua Burgin holds the position of Vice President of Product and Strategy at VMware’s Product and Cloud Services division. He oversees a diverse range of offerings, including packaged software, cloud-based SaaS services, edge computing solutions, and end-user solutions. In his role, Joshua is responsible for enhancing customer experience and ensuring software engineering consistency across various domains such as onboarding, lifecycle management, DevOps, and security.

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