Building a vision for your product or for your company (with examples)

To be competitive, organisations need to align their teams to a common and shared goal. Failing to do so causes employees to disagree, act according to their own direction or interest and argue about every decision taken, resulting in a chaos undermining efforts and causing constant frustration. A clear vision enables meaning and engagement. I know because I have run a chaotic company with no vision.

During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”

“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

A vision is an inspirational goal that engages every employee in the same direction, no matter their function. A vision can be established for a product, for a company, for a team and event for yourself.

I want to cover 3 things about building a vision and aligning teams:

  1. How to build a vision
  2. What makes a great product vision
  3. Examples of product vision

But before, it is important to recognise that the value of a vision mostly is how it is communicated to the organisation. It’s not a magic phrase that will align everyone, it’s something that can take the form of an image, a speech, a movie, a cause, a goal, a manifesto and actions. Something that will resonate with the employees. In that sense, it is very close to the Simon Sinek “Why” of an organisation. 

The product vision also directly drives decisions on the roadmap and into the company structure and processes. A vision without action is a hallucination.

Establishing and implementing a vision

Establish a shared vision engaging employees in collaborative workshops. You can use the structure of those workshops to generate a shared vision:

  • 20/20 vision exercise (Innovation Game)
  • Remember the future exercise (Innovation Game)
  • Vision workshop (Innovation Game)
  • Cover Story (Innovation Game)
  • Working Backward (Amazon process)
  • Start with Why workshop (Simon Sinek)

Refine the vision with clarity and focus to be able to synthesize it into one of those documents:

  • growth thesis: trends, area, ideas
  • innovation thesis (what’s in and what’s out)
  • tell the story of the future 
  • A vision board (visual)

Connect the vision to actions – review your activities, project, portfolio to align with the vision:

  • goals, strategy, project and actions
  • decide what to kill, what to accelerate

Communicate regularly:

  • on the vision and the process made toward the vision
  • create communication artefacts (stories, images, films, testimonials)
  • embed the vision in the structure of the organisation, change the structure and processes if needed
  • connect the vision to the daily tasks, check that the vision is translated into actions

Checklist and best practices for an inspiring product vision

Describe the Motivation behind the Product – The product vision is the overarching goal you are aiming for, the reason for creating the product. It provides a continued purpose in an ever-changing world, acts as the product’s true north, provides motivation when the going gets tough, and facilitates effective collaboration.

Look beyond the Product – An effective product vision goes beyond the product and captures the change the product should instigate.

Distinguish between Vision and Product Strategy – Your product vision should not be a plan that shows how to reach your goal. Instead, you should keep the product vision and the product strategy – the path towards the goal – separate.

Employ a Shared Vision – You can come up with the most beautiful vision for your product. But it’s useless if the people involved in making the product a success don’t buy into it.

Choose an Inspiring Vision – “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you,” said Steve Jobs. Your vision should therefore motivate people, connect them to the product, and inspire them.

Think Big – Make your product vision ambitious so that it engages people and it can facilitate a change in the strategy.

Keep your Vision Short and Sweet – Your vision is the ultimate reason for creating the product, it should be easy to communicate and to understand.

Use the Vision to Guide your Decisions – While the vision alone is certainly not enough, it is a first filter for new ideas and change requests

Examples of visions and mission statements

Example 1: Tesla

Tesla’s vision today is to “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles” while it’s mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

This vision is translated into actions but Elon Musk in 2006:

So, in short, the master plan is:

  • Build sports car
  • Use that money to build an affordable car
  • Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  • While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options


That was revised 10 years later in 2016:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it


Announcing this vision publicly allowed Tesla to communicate it inside the company and outside of the company, helping recruit engineers aligned with that vision.

Example 2:

Wise mission is the following: Money without borders – instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free. We’re powering money for people and businesses: to pay, to get paid, to spend, in any currency, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.


Communicating this mission publicly allows everyone to align within the company.

Examples 3: Spotify

The vision of Spotify is : “We envision a cultural platform where professional creators can break free of their medium’s constraints and where everyone can enjoy an immersive artistic experience that enables us to empathize with each other and to feel part of a greater whole.”

As a mission: Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.


Example 4: Google

Google – Mission statement:  To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Google’s corporate vision is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

On a product level: Google Calendar team came up with a simple 4 point vision:

  • Fast, visually appealing, and joyous to use
  • Drop-dead simple to get information into the calendar
  • More than boxes on a screen (reminders, invitations, etc.)
  • Easy to share so you can see your whole life in one place

References used for this article:

The Culture Map in action

This is what I learned using the Culture Map tool with a corporate team.

First a bit of context: I have been following Dave Gray’s and Alexander Osterwalder’s work for the past years and got really excited when Alex presented the Culture Map back in 2015 at the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco.

Since then I’d been looking for an opportunity to use the tool. I recently met Dave Gray who gave me a 30mins run down on how he uses the Culture Map. I complemented my research with Best Practices: How To Use The Culture Map and was ready to go!

Frame culture map

Sitting down with the team, we took about 2.5 hours together to map out their culture. After explaining the tool and what to expect from it, the participants had about 10 mins to fill out the map individually. We then had a conversation about different inputs each person had and aimed at creating a collective Culture Map. Here are my takeaways.

The Culture Map created and framed the conversation

For me, this is the main benefit of the tool. The topics discussed would not be talked about or analysed as a team otherwise. For instance, the team highlighted the freedom they have in their work hours and the tools they can use. Asking why does the team have such freedom (the enabler) and what this freedom allowed them to achieve (the outcomes) gave them a better understanding of what’s going on.

Behaviours have positive and negative outcomes

When talking about the outcome of a specific behaviour, we found for each positive outcome, there was also a negative outcome. For instance the team could move fast and make some decisions on their own. The downside of this was that it created a disconnected with to the rest of the business that couldn’t behave that way. Bringing this to light now allows the team to see it and think whether to continue with or adjust the behaviour. It becomes now a conscious decision.

Identify behaviours as things We do…

The best practices suggest to start by mapping out behaviours. This worked well for us. To help define team behaviours, I found it useful to start the phrase with We + some verb. “We release code before it’s perfect”. “We have lunch together as a team”. For each behaviour, each team member had a story to tell. This supported the collective understanding of the team culture.

Don’t include the boss?

This is more of a question then a takeaway. The session worked well as the team talked openly and exposed how they work in a non-judgemental way. I imagine the exercise might not run smoothly for some teams if the boss is around. It can prevent a frank and honest conversation, leading to an unremarkable result.

As a bonus we used the Culture Map to map the “want to have” culture. Here again, fundamental conversation emerged, questioning the purpose and ambitions of the team.

So was it worth the 2.5 hours? Absolutely. The tool is great to frame the conservation and bring the invisible to light. Do you know how your team behaves? Why do they behave the way they do, does this have a positive or negative impact?

If you want to learn more about how to think and innovate like a startup, contact me on Tango.

When to focus on growth?

So, at the Lean Startup Unconference in San Francisco, David Binetti was holding a session on How to know when to step on the gas and focus on growth.

He repositionned the question, using the growth curve and the 3 horizons model and asking: how can you measure if you have product-market fit or how do you know you can move a product from H3 to H2.

All users or customers of your product come either from PROM: promotion activities or WOM: Word of mouth. PROM activities gives you linear growth but WOM activities gives you exponential growth. Which makes sense when you think about it for a second. Vitality is exponential.

Looking at the growth curve, PROM only brings the curve forward in time but does not impact its shape.

In the real world, your growth curve is messy and looks like this.

If split your source of new customer into PROM and WOM you have a different read the signal.

And when the number of users that comes from WOM is superior to the number of users that comes from PROM, that’s when to step on the gas.

So on the early stage of this growth curve, work on WOM.

Customers are your best source of customers. -David Binetti

How WOM happens? On the iPod, the white earphone told everyone looking this was someone using an a iPod. You joined Facebook because friends asked you to. People started buying flatscreen TV because they could see flat screen TV boxes thrown in the garbage, and neighbours and friends getting flat screen TV.

This is what got the “early majority” to buy the product. This is how you know you are ready to step on the gas, when WOM > PROM.

Thank you for this David.