Product Vision presentations that inspire

By Nick Butler in Agile on April 03, 2017

Gaelle marcel 161096

Presenting the Product Vision at an Agile Project Kick-off is a chance to inspire the team by depicting the better future you’ll be building. Find out how.

As we described in our Introduction to the Agile Project Kick-off, at Boost we start the Kick-off with the Product Vision presentation.

Boost CEO Nathan Donaldson has delivered a few of these, and sat in on a few more, so I asked him what they’re all about.

“The purpose of the vision is to align the team with the outcomes, the expected value, the whole ‘why’ of the project,” he said. “It’s about providing leadership.”

Painting the way ahead

“You’re describing a future state.”

The presentation points out the destination and describes what you’re going to see when you get there.

“You’re painting a picture. The vision isn’t just an abstract concept, you want to communicate an image that people can hold in their mind.”

This picture shows the benefits the product will deliver for the customers and the organisation.

“We try to be as customer-centric as possible—and when we say customer it could be an internal customer—so you want to have customers’ voice in there.

“All these things get scaled to the size of the project,” he added. “With a big, multi-year, multi-million project you might have a video of customers talking about their pain points and how the product might help them.” With a small project it’s enough to pass on feedback or suggestions you’ve had from customers. A brief summary of any user research you’ve done never goes amiss either.

‘Why’ not ‘how’

“You want to focus on the outcomes not the features,” says Nathan.

If you’re building a mobile banking app, for example, you might talk about “customers doing their banking anywhere, anytime” rather than “customers logging in via username and password”. It’s about the ‘why’ not the the ‘how’.

You’ve got the whole development team to nail down the ‘how’ based on the ‘why’. If the team know why they’re doing something they have the criteria to decide how.

“If the team keep referring back to the vision when making decisions—if they’re doing story mapping or some other activity and they say ‘in order to deliver x or y from the vision then we’ll need to do a or b’—then that’s a clear indicator of success,” said Nathan.

The vision is both destination and motivation.

“If you’ve articulated the ‘why’, you’ve given the team something to get excited and enthusiastic about.”

Who delivers the Product Vision?

The Product Owner often presents the vision solo, but you can also do it as a tag team.

Having the chief executive (or another member of your senior leadership team) present some or all of the vision has a number of benefits. It shows that your leadership is behind the project and consider it a priority. You’re also using a good tool for the job. The C-suite is often practiced at presenting the organisation’s vision and relating that to individual projects or programmes.

“They can talk about the strategic alignment, how it’s going to fit with the aims of the organisation, how it’s going to change the world,” Nathan said.

If their time is tight they can open the Product Vision with a ten minute big-picture presentation. The Product Owner can then take over to cover the customer benefits in more detail.

Preparing for the Product Vision presentation

You’ve probably already noted benefits for your organisation and customers in your project pitch or business case.

Imagine you’d projected that your product will boost uptime and satisfaction by 50%. If your organisation’s strategic vision was, for example, to ‘deliver delightful digital relationships day or night’ then you’ll want to show in practical terms what these improvements mean for the customers and how they help deliver the strategy.

If you’re working with an Agile shop like Boost we’ll facilitate not just the Kick-off workshop but the overall Kick-off process, including helping you prepare the Product Vision presentation.

After you’ve presented the Product Vision

Once your presentation is over it’s a chance for you to answer any questions the team have.

As we noted in the example Agile Project Kick-off Agenda, at Boost we like to follow the Product Vision presentation with the Press Release and Elevator Pitch. These let everyone at the Kick-off both further develop and distil the vision. We’re putting together templates you can use for these activities so stay tuned.

The Press Release and Elevator Pitch are also great for capturing the vision so you can refer back to it later. If they’re not on your agenda then you might want to video the presentation.

“The vision may be small part of the Kick-off, but it’s critical,” said Nathan. “It shows the team how you want to change the world.”

The Kick-off Kit

This post is part of a series covering the tools and templates you can use for a Project Kick-off.

Introduction to the Agile Project Kick-off

Project kick-off agenda: Running the workshop

Press Release template and tips

Elevator Pitch template and tips

Pragmatic Personas template and tips

User Story Mapping

Prioritise user stories and produce more value sooner

Success Sliders

User stories: a beginner’s guide

The Team Charter: Build a better team together

Further reading

Watch The Board episode on Product Discovery Workshops