Replacing Product Visions with Customer Journey Visions

 Homer Simpson car vision:  The Homer

Homer Simpson car vision: The Homer

Where do you see the product in X years?

The product vision exists to answer this question.  It helps communicate a sense of direction to stakeholders, both internal and external.  It’s often accompanied with mockups that took a lot of time to create.

The Issue with Product Visions

But is asking what the product looks like in 3 years even important?  To me, no way.  Product visions are a self-fulfilling prophecy.  They’re created by product leads who will want to make sure they move the product closer to their vision over time so they won’t look like they (a) don’t know how to predict the future, (b) can’t execute or (c) are bad product managers.  So they iterate towards that vision, regardless of whether it’s the right direction.  At least it’s a direction that stakeholders are familiar with, they think.

An Alternative Vision

So what is a product lead to communicate if not a product vision? To me, the best way to communicate a sense of direction to stakeholders is to help them imagine what the customer’s world will be like if the product is successful.  What do I mean by that?  Let’s look at some imaginary examples:

Amazon

Product Vision
A cross-platform shopping experience that lets customers search, compare and order millions of items by voice.

Customer Journey Vision
Imagine never having to leave your house again to go to the store.  No more parking lots, no more lines at the register.  Imagine ordering items from your sofa and opening your front door an hour later to see them there.

Tesla

Product Vision
A self-driving car with free WiFi that can be charged in less than 15 minutes.

Customer Journey Vision
Imagine being able to check email and read the news while your car drives you to work each morning.  Imagine reducing your carbon footprint and saving money on gas in a luxury, high-tech automobile.

Blue Apron

Product Vision
A flexible subscription, in-home cooking service with a mobile app that uses AI to recommend meals to customers.

Customer Journey Vision
Imagine not having to think about what to make for dinner.  Imagine everything you need to make a gourmet dinner in 30 minutes shows up at your doorstep each week.

The Homer

Product Vision
“Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball.”
A bubble dome car that can hold huge beverages and plays La Cucaracha when you honk.

Customer Journey Vision
Imagine being able to honk many horns when you’re mad.  Imagine being able to shut out screaming kids on road trips with the push of a button.