Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

The Product Owner and the Vision

Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for- because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything

Peter Marshall

It all starts with a vision. The Product Owner steers the project. He does this by envisioning the final product and communicating this vision. From here we get requirements, and the basis for accepting or rejecting review items. Vision is the key role and responsibility of the Product Owner.

What is vision?

Vision is a part of strategic planning. It draws on the beliefs, mission and culture of the organisation. It is what we want to see in the future. And it is positive and inspiring.

Why do we need vision?

Vision is not a scrum thing 🙂 and it is not a new fad either. Here is a coding horror post from 2005 begging for a vision on projects.

A vision statement isn’t just marketing weasel-speak– it’s the soul of your project. And who wants to work on a project with no soul? – Jeff Atwood

Vision provides continuity, it describes direction and explains purpose. It sparks interest and commitment. A vision builds confidence and results in efficiency and productivity. Its the BIG picture that keeps you on track and reaching for that end goal.

What can kill vision?

There are things that can kill a vision … like tradition, fear, politics. Be aware of these and when you have doubts check if the doubts have roots in tradition, fear or politics … then reassess your doubt.

How do I create a vision?

As a Product Owner you need to constantly work on your vision. Speak to the customers, or to the sales people who hear what customers want. Go to the conferences, See and experience what your competitors are doing.

Look at the bugs that come in – are they coding bugs or more related to user experience and ease of use? Is there a roadmap for your product/project?

Speak to the Product Managers or to the Client. Research what is out there, and what your product/project could be!

Be passionate!

Five Questions to guide you to a vision: (from

  1. Who is going to buy the product? Who is the target customer?
  2. Which customer needs will the product address?
  3. Which product attributes are critical to satisfy the needs selected, and therefore for the  success of the product?
  4. How does the product compare against existing products, both from competitors and the  same company? What are the product’s unique selling points?
  5. What is the target timeframe and budget to develop and launch the product?

Remember – the best visions are simple, short and sweet 🙂

How do you know if the team gets your vision?

Do the elevator test. Anyone on the team should be able to clearly explain what they’re working on, and why anyone would care, in the time it takes for a short elevator ride (around 60 seconds).

Another sign is if there are complaints the team doesn’t care or has no pride in what they’re doing. Usually this is when the team has lost the vision and work has just become about arriving to do their 8hrs for the day.

Do you have a vision to work towards?


2 responses to “The Product Owner and the Vision

  1. Jonathan June 10, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Love it. I believe that po’s MUST have vision and they need to be so passionate about it they spread it through the entire team. If you don’t love your product and vision as a product owner, you need to fight to change it…life is too short to do otherwise.

    I’m going to write on this subject in a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll link back to your post here as your main points are very good (Jeff’s product-shaped-hole, PO responsibility, establishing the ‘why’, and the elevator pitch). Nice work.

  2. sam June 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Yes – life is too short – don’t do anything you don’t believe in. I look forward to your blog post. Thanks for the comment and the complement!

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