Uniting teams around shared objectives: 4 tips for evangelizing your product vision and strategy
As a product leader, you’re probably thinking about your product vision and strategy all day, every day. So your team must be too, right?
Spoiler alert: They’re not.
In our 2021 Product Excellence Report, we found that product leaders are 58% more likely than their teams to report that they have a clear product vision and strategy. That’s a pretty significant difference that, at best, keeps product organizations both large and small from reaching their full potential. At worst, teams risk becoming feature factories, churning out new products and features without a clear goal.
So, how do you explain such a major gap?
We find that product leaders often overestimate how well their teams understand the things they’re constantly thinking about, leading them to underestimate just how much they need to reiterate their plans.
It all comes down to clear, frequent communication — product leaders must become the greatest evangelists of their product vision and strategy, taking every opportunity to build alignment. You want your teams to understand how their work ties to the bigger picture, and how it impacts customers and the future of the organization.
Once everyone is on the same page, product teams will be more empowered to solve complex, strategic problems on their own.
Let’s jump into some tips on how to make this vision a reality.
Tip #1: Run an internal marketing campaign
Once you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to spread the word. You might have the clearest and most simple product vision and strategy in the world — but it’s useless if no one knows about it.
In the same way you would create a go-to-market strategy for your products, you need to find the right content formats and placements to ensure your message reaches stakeholders and teams from across the company. Building clarity around your vision and strategy needs to happen both upwards — with department leads, stakeholders, investors, and the C-suite — and downwards—with teams and individual contributors.
Treat it like an internal marketing campaign. We’ll elaborate more on how to do this in the upcoming tips.
Tip #2: Repeat, repeat, repeat
The more frequently you expose your organization to your vision and startegy, the more clarity you’ll create — and the easier it will be to keep everyone working towards the same goal
At Productboard, for example, we avoid going more than 45 days without meeting with executives. We’ve found that in the absence of updates, executives might assume there’s been no progress made, so these conversations are an important part of managing up.
To keep our product teams in the loop, we’ve found success with regular “product roadshows”. Twice a year, senior product leadership schedules a half-day session with each product group to share updates, answer any questions, and open up the floor for discussion.
Repetition here is really the key.
Tip #3: Meet your stakeholders where they are
If you’re just getting started, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel or add more meetings to reach people — no one likes extra meetings on their calendar, nor do they have the desire to learn yet another tool. Instead, you’ll want to seek out existing opportunities to meet with direct reports, cross-functional teams, and other departments.
Your weekly or bi-monthly team meetings, for example, are the perfect opportunity to reiterate your vision and strategy. And you likely have an R&D or EPD meeting every two to six weeks for reaching adjacent departments. Here at Productboard, we host an EPD all-hands twice a quarter — we review quarterly plans across all teams at the start of the quarter, then review progress mid-quarter.
Quarterly kickoff meetings with go-to-market teams and company all-hands are also great opportunities for championing your vision and strategy.
Tip #4: Leverage storytelling to inspire
Our final tip — and arguably the most important — is to leverage storytelling to inspire.
Storytelling is a critical skill for product leaders when they need to motivate their teams or bring the wider organization on board with their vision. But far too often, leaders fall short of telling compelling stories and instead end up leaning far too heavily on statistics and timelines.
At Productboard, we like tell our product story in three acts:
- How the world was before Productboard
- What the world looks like now that Productboard is in it
- How we plan to change the world in the future
We find that this approach is a good way to showcase exactly how we see our product making an impact while simultaneously celebrating the accomplishments of our product teams.
Creative visualizations can go a long way here. Your product vision and strategy don’t need to be locked in a memo. Again, meet stakeholders where they are. Videos, slides, and other visual assets all can communicate a powerful message in a short time. Good old-fashioned printouts taped to the walls in high-traffic locations are great ways to spread your message in a traditional office setting. Remote teams can follow the same strategy, making the product vision visible by pinning it in messaging apps like Slack or making it the first page in a company wiki, like Notion.
The real power of storytelling is in making your vision and strategy more memorable—your audience takes your tale and makes it their own, extending your ideas further and boosting your chances of inspiring action and achieving your goals.
Building alignment around your product vision & strategy won’t happen overnight
Creating and sharing a compelling product vision and strategy is an essential part of building an empowered team — but it doesn’t happen in a single presentation or memo. It’s a process that takes months — or even years — to master.
The good news? By starting now, You’re kicking off a positive feedback loop of innovation. Teams who understand where you’re trying to go are empowered to solve problems on their own and more likely to suggest innovative, original ideas for improving the product. You no longer need to be involved in every meeting and decision to ensure everyone is working together towards the same goal.