Vision. It’s what all psychics claim to have, what all artists try to find, and what all business executives pine for. The terrible fact of the matter is, that the track record of people actually being able to predict the future is terrible, especially businessmen.
You don’t believe me? Well! How about feast your eyes on these famous zingers…
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” — Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
Yeah, but those guys are all from the last century. Certainly we’ve gotten better at predicting the business climate these days, right?
Well some of the world’s most famous business leaders are guilty of making some absolutely terrible predictions even within the last 10 years or so. Bill Gates is particularly bad at predicting the future, and seems to save his worst predictions for the World Economic Forum that’s held in Davos, Switzerland every year. Back in 2003 he pretty much suggested that Google would be gone once Sergey Brin and Larry Page got tired of running a business. Then in 2004, he famously claimed at that time that spam would be eradicated within 2 years. How’s that working for you? I thought so.
So, what’s the point of all of this? Well, nobody has a crystal ball, but yet Product Managers are asked as part and parcel of their job to create a vision for where their product will go in the future and a strategy for getting it there.
So, without a crystal ball, how do you go about creating a vision and a strategy? Have no fear. There’s a template for that…
My PM Survival Kit item #3: Vision and Strategy Template
Basically, as with all of my templates, it asks you to answer a bunch of questions that outline the landscape for your product, future opportunities, the competitive landscape, and a strategy for product development. Along the way, you’ll also define possible projects that will help your company execute on the strategy. All of this information can then be used in a business proposal to your management.
See? It’s not so hard. And no crystal ball needed….