Alias: Product Vision
... having come out of The Mist, the passion of some core visionary individual or group must be shaped into something that can be shared and excite a group of people to work as one mind to build something to increase some aspect of quality of life.
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People thrive within constraints that channel their creativity and work towards a common good, but it’s also true that overly specific constraints can turn contributors into subservient robots who blindly follow orders rather than following with their heart.
To achieve a great vision usually requires the work of an aligned team, as well as alignment between that team and its stakeholders. Teams comprise individuals with opinions and feelings, and though they all may be well-meaning, each may conceptualize and express their anticipated contributions in different ways. This creates the appearance of a conflict between team members. Yet if one strips off the noise that can dominate how each team member’s perspective is perceived, one can usually tap into culturally shared feelings and conceptualizations that draw deeply on the shared culture of the stakeholders.
This diversity in perspective within a team brings great value and should be supported, in the interest of exploring a wide variety of options. The different experiences and ideas give these individuals different perspectives that can be valuable. Unchecked, these differences can fracture the team by taking the team in multiple directions.
For a team to be truly effective all members need to be pulling in the same direction.
The team works in the direction of a shared goal. When the shared goal is too broadly defined or vague, the team risks exploring too many useless directions. Many false starts can be lost in unnecessary experimentation. When the shared goal is too narrowly defined, then the team becomes overly constrained and valuable directions will remain unexplored; there is a waste of intellect and creativity.
A goal becomes shared when the team takes ownership of it. The team takes ownership of the goal when it co-creates it so that it becomes theirs.
The future is inherently unknowable; therefore committing to a final result or plan over a long time frame is fraught with danger. There are too many external forces to be able to consider. Yet teams need a shared goal to create cohesion and direct performance.
The individual who embodies the passion for this new product effort takes on the role of Product Owner, around whom stakeholders and potential future coworkers rally to articulate and together to define and refine a Vision. The Vision is a description of how the product supports a desired future towards which an envisioned future Product Organization advances.
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The Vision provides a flexible, explicit rallying point to guide the emergent group forward as a team with a systems-thinking understanding of how their own lives and those of their end users and others stakeholders will benefit from the envisioned product effort. One key aspect of the Vision pertains to the product itself. The Product Vision goes beyond being a vague motherhood statement, but must rather to be concrete. The Product Vision lies at the intersection of the passion behind the idea, the demand for the idea, and the feasibility of building something great. Typically the Product Vision  embodies the following considerations:
The Product Owner owns the Vision, and sets out to realize it by creating a Product Organization as well as by defining a Value Stream. The Value Stream may be driven by a Product Roadmap that will eventually be made concrete as a Product Backlog. As a consequence of having the Vision at the foundation of these other Scrum components, the members of the Product Organization, and particularly the Scrum Teams, have a greater sense of direction and Unity of Purpose. Deliverables can be vetted based on whether they will add to realizing the Vision. Teams can measure their progress against bringing this Vision to reality.
Having an effective Vision can help to set direction, to inspire and unify the Scrum Team, and can help to shape the behavior of the team without constraining their creativity. A great vision is one that gets you out of bed in the morning and charges you up for the day. The Vision guides the creation and enactment of a Value Stream to realize the Vision and deliver a series of product increments to stakeholders.
Visions evolve over time, and some products find out rather quickly that while the original vision was off the mark, that basic ideas can carry through to support what is sometimes an even grander vision.
Katsuaki Watanabe, then CEO of Toyota, believed in setting “impossible goals” as visions that drove Toyota’s strategic direction:
Many of Toyota’s goals are purposely vague, allowing employees to channel their energies in different directions and forcing specialists from different functions to collaborate across the rigid silos in which they usually work. For example, Watanabe has said that his goal is to build a car that makes the air cleaner, prevents accidents, makes people healthier and happier when they drive it, and gets you from coast to coast on one tank of gas ... 
At the end of the 1970s Bill Gates and Paul Allen had a vision of “a computer on every desk and in every home.”  The vision became reality when “there was kind of a magical breakthrough when the computer became cheap, and we could see that everyone could afford a computer.”  Now in the 21st century Elon Musk is working on his vision “to make humanity a multiplanet species.”  He already made successful steps in accomplishing his vision by making reusable rockets to lower the cost of launches. 
A great Vision aspires to some, perhaps transcendent, Greatest Value. For example, journalists in the Netherlands started a new chocolate company, Tony’s Chocolonley, out of a vision of creating chocolate bars made with slave-free labor. 
 Roman Pichler. Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love, 1st ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn), 2010, p. 24.
 Hirotaka Takeuchi, Emi Osono, and Norihiko Shimizu. “The Contradictions that Drive Toyota’s Success.” In Harvard Business Review 86(6), June 2008.
 Bill Gates. Interview. Academy of Achievement. http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/gat0int-1, 2010 (accessed 27 August 2016).
 Carl Hofman. “Elon Musk Is Betting His Fortune on a Mission Beyond Earth’s Orbit.” Wired.com, http://www.wired.com/2007/05/ff-space-musk, 22 May 2007 (accessed 27 August 2016).
 Julie Johnson and Dana Hull. “Musk’s SpaceX returns rocket for perfect upright landing.” In The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/musks-spacex-returns-rocket-for-perfect-upright-landing/, 22 December 2015 (accessed 27 August 2016).
 —. Our Vision and Mission, https://us.tonyschocolonely.com/our-mission/our-vision-and-mission/ (accessed 18 December 2017).
Photo Credit: Photograph from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), May 25, 1961, Image: 70-H-1075, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kennedy_Giving_Historic_Speech_to_Congress_-_GPN-2000-001658.jpg (picture in public domain).