ProductTank Nairobi Recap: From Vision to Reality #KyleOnProductVision

The Meetup for product people, by product people

Date — 1st November 2018
Location — 
Safaricom Alpha, Lenana Rd ACS Plaza Nairobi

The product community in Nairobi had a perfect kickoff for November when we held our third #ProductTankNrb meetup. As usual our goal is to share learnings, ignite conversations and awareness around what goes into building products. This meetup saw over 70 people gather to learn and share all about creating a product vision and driving results from it.

About the speaker

Kyle Lubieniecki is Head of Product at The Rumie Initiative, a Toronto-based social enterprise that delivers free digital education to under-served and disconnected communities around the world.

Kyle is also the co-founder and organizer of ProductTank Toronto, Toronto’s largest product management community. It was a great pleasure to have a friend from the larger ProductTank community come and share with us on how to move from vision to reality when building products.

Topic — From vision to reality, Driving results from your product vision.

Being a wide topic, the idea of Kyle’s presentation was to spur discussions and learn more on the topic from the room. Ideally, creating a product vision and using it to drive results for a product is a difficult thing but which when iterated on over time gets easier with time.

Key Takeaways

1. What is a product vision?

Kyle started by explaining what a product vision is. Product vision is used to guide the team to deliver future product success, this can span several years typically 2–5 years into the future.

Another key thing to note here is that it describes the users experience considering the goal is to build human centered products. The product vision inspires the team to help make the vision a reality.

2. Why should you consider having a product vision?

In this, Kyle explained three key reasons why product teams should have a product vision.

  • Purpose — In a constantly changing world, the product vision provides continuous purpose and motivation.
  • Focus — This enables the team to prioritize better.
  • Alignment — The vision functions as a true north to enable collaboration across different teams, be it product development, data team or the marketing teams.

3. Creating a product vision

Kyle stated that it is important to put these three into consideration when creating a product vision.

  • Collaboration — Including the key stakeholders to ensure alignment on the vision from all teams.
  • Simplicity — This will keep the vision memorable for both the team and the users.
  • Motivating — To inspire the team and excite the users who are the key enablers in getting the vision to reality.

Kyle shared some additional resources that can be used when creating a product vision. The Roman Pichler’s product vision board which enables businesses to document key business functions and their relationship with the product vision. The cover story innovation game is another great exercise that can be used to visualize the vision.

4. Product vision vs Product strategy

The product vision guides the product strategy. Kyle stressed that these two are not equal but they highly depend on each other. The key learning here was that when a product vision and strategy is transparent, it is easier for the PM to make tough go/no-go decisions.

  • Product strategy — Here, Kyle gave a relatable example of Uber Chap Chap a lower priced Uber service in Nairobi. This product is tailored to meet the needs of a specific market. The strategy focuses the team to obsess over the relevant market.
  • While the product vision is inspiring, broad and inclusive, the product strategy is intentional, specific and team focused.

5. Solution space vs Problem space

Kyle stressed that a product is really a solution to a users pain point. As a PM, you should live in the problem state so that you can understand the real needs and build based on this.Here he quoted some of Dan Olsen’s work on the topic. More on this can be found in the link below.

Example using https://www.rumie.org/

Kyle’s advised the PMs to avoid the solution pollution and focus on framing the team around the problem rather than on the solution.

6. Business goals vs Product goals

Business goals help create product goals. Some of the things to consider when breaking down product goals are:

  • Granular — The goal should be specific enough to avoid confusion
  • Measurable — Is the goal measurable and can it have a KPI assigned to it?
Example using https://www.rumie.org/

7. Product OKRs

Setting product OKRs enables focus for the team around a goal for a specific period of time. When creating these, Kyle mentioned some key considerations to make.More on OKRs can be found on Radical focus book by Christina Wodtke.

  • Objective — These should be qualitative, inspirational, time bound and actionable by the team.
  • Key Results — This quantizes the inspiration, usually difficult but not impossible.
Mapping results to your vision

8 .Outcomes vs Outputs

The last takeaway from the talk was on focusing on the outcomes of your user and not the outputs of development. Kyle advised the PMs to build a learning team through failure, iteration and retros. And as we all know, building products is an iterative process that entails learning, growing and iterating on previous releases.

Our third meetup was a huge success! Thanks to the growing community of product people who have shown great interest in the event and the conversation there after. Huge thanks to Safaricom Alpha our event sponsors and Kyle for the great tips shared and conversations ignited after the presentation.

Our tentative date for the next meetup will be 6th December (tentatively). We hope to see you then!Mark the date and come hear more about Product Management!

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We have to admit that not everything worked as friction-less as we had imagined so feel free to leave your honest feedback to help improve our next event- We love feedback
Slides from the meetup - Breaking down what UX means
Twitter thread -
Tweets #ProductTankNrb
Additional Reading from Kyle -
Resources
Speakers Details -
Kyle

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