Kara Gillis

AMA: Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, Observability, Kara Gillis on Product Vision

April 16 @ 10:00AM PST
View AMA Answers
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, Observability, Kara Gillis on Product Vision
Top Questions
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
TLDR: I use Geoffrey Moore's product vision template to craft an internal statement, which can be used for a compelling public message or "mission statement." A product vision is not typically used for external consumption. You might be asking yourself, what? I thought Apple, Meta, Slack, and Unity had all these quirky and cool vision statements that told me about their mission and products. These are actually corporate vision statements that reflect the brand, rather than merely the product I'm building. This is true not only for big companies that have many products: Apple: Make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it. Meta: Giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. But also for companies known for one hero product, often named after the company itself: Slack: Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Unity: Democratize game development and enable everyone to create rich interactive content. Geoffrey Moore defined the quintessential product vision template in Crossing the Chasm. I've seen two different versions of the template; this one that helps distill the essential elements in a bulleted list or one that is already in a statement: * For [final client], * whose [problem that needs to be solved], * the [name of the product] * is a [product category] * that [key-benefits, reason to buy it]. * Different from [competition alternative], * our product [key-difference]. AND For [our target customer], who [customer’s need], the [product] is a [product category or description] that [unique benefits and selling points]. Unlike [competitors or current methods], our product [main differentiators]. Refer to the answer to the question, "What do you research when crafting a product vision statement?" to fill out the statement itself. If you are looking for a public statement you can tie to your company's brand, use on websites, and tell to customers, there is one more step. Create a shortened version of the statement using the [unique benefits and selling points] or [key benefits, reason to buy it] section, which solves either a named or unnamed problem. If you take a look at the four punchy examples from Apple, Meta, Slack, and Unity above, they focus on their differentiation for their entire statement. They allude to the problem they're solving, but they leave it inferred. By leaving it up to the reader, and saying less, they hold your attention to perceive solving a variety of problems with their product.
...Read More
412 Views
1 request
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
First, we should define what a product vision statement is. A product vision statement defines the product's positioning - what we tell ourselves about our product in a market. This is different than messaging - which is what we tell OTHERS about our product in the market. How are these different? Think about what you think to yourself about someone wearing an eccentric outfit in public. Perhaps you think to yourself, "Wow, he is not pulling off that hat" (positioning). You look closer at the person and you recognize the gentleman as your old friend from college that you haven't seen. He walks up to you, and he asks how he looks. You respond, "Not my style" (messaging). See the difference? The closer our differentiation can match the perception customers have of your product, however, the better. The most referenced product vision template is from Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm: For [our target customer], who [customer’s need], the [product] is a [product category or description] that [unique benefits and selling points]. Unlike [competitors or current methods], our product [main differentiators]. I think the answer to "what do I research" is stated in the bold parts of the template: * Customer segmentation based on customer needs * Product category / market * Existing products in the market * Gaps in customers being served in the market * Weaknesses of existing options * Competitors * How they make money * Product features * Differentiators Once you understand the above three major areas, you can decide: 1. Who you want to target within the segmentation, most likely based on a gap in customers not being served properly by the existing options in the market 2. Customer needs within this segmentation 3. An understanding of what product, based on these prioritized customer needs, you would be offering 4. How your offering is different than your competitors
...Read More
429 Views
1 request
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
I start thinking about product vision FIRST. Right away. As soon as there is a thought of a product at all. That's why I like the Amazon PRFAQ template - it helps craft an outside in view before focusing on the features and product requirements. Otherwise, why are you building anything at all?
...Read More
401 Views
1 request
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
As a reminder, Geoffrey Moore's product vision template is: * For [final client], * whose [problem that needs to be solved], * the [name of the product] * is a [product category] * that [key-benefits, reason to buy it]. * Different from [competition alternative], * our product [key-difference]. I think it would be rude to call out a specific example of a bad product vision. A few signs of bad product vision statements include those that: * Change often. I don't think product vision statements should change that often, but I understand why they do. As companies evolve or expand into new business models and markets, so do visions. However, if the core premise of the company doesn't change, the vision shouldn't constantly be changing. * Focus on features rather than benefits. What conveys more value, that your car has power steering and seatbelts or that your car provides a superior driving experience without compromising safety? See the difference? * Targeted customers or customer problems aren't specific enough. You cannot please everyone, therefore you cannot build a product that serves every need for every person. Being specific and targeted helps solve real problems. When first launching a product, sometimes being super niche is a huge strength. Expanding beyond that initial target segment becomes easier when you have NAILED delivering a solution to a real problem. * Too broad, not enough differentiation. Maybe your product is really excellent, but don't use terminology or adjectives that do not evoke a specific (sensing a theme?) emotion or understanding. Don't use words like "great," "nice" or "extraordinary." Use words like "thrilling", "serene", "white-glove" - so I understand what you really mean. * No goals called out. Do you want to be the #1 in the world? In your country or region? Within a category? Help me understand what you're the best at otherwise I'll just settle for the cheapest option. If you made it this far in the answer, you deserve a real example of a bad product vision. I found multiple versions of WeWork's corporate vision, which evolved from a longer internal product vision at one point, but this one was particularly bad: "Empowering tomorrow's world at work." - I don't know what this means. Way too broad, no specific differentiation. "We are reinventing the way people work through designed space, flexibility, technology, and community." I understand this one, but it's both focusing on features rather than benefits, and also providing features that are too broad and not inherently differentiated - because they are not specific enough. Hope this helps!
...Read More
485 Views
1 request
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
Once again, there is a difference between the internal product vision and the external corporate/brand vision and mission. For corporate visions used externally - website, digital and branded assets, conferences, etc. - it is very important to test messaging with users. For this, I recommend marketing message testing using qualitative or quantitative methods. An example of qualitative message testing would be a focus group or 1:1 interviews with end users, while an example of quantitative message testing is analyzing trends from a poll, survey, or conjoint experiment. Analysis methods like these led to Netflix's vision becoming, "“Becoming the best global entertainment distribution service" rather than "Becoming the best DVD delivery service." Right? I think it's more important to test your internal product vision statement with a variety of stakeholders because it drives alignment, roadmap, and investment prioritization. Your product vision should encompass how you think about building features to target a specific customer segment and their specific needs. And you're not just building something to copy your competitors (hopefully), rather you are finding your own niche that differentiates you from your competition in a specific way - identified in your product vision statement.
...Read More
384 Views
1 request
Kara Gillis
Kara Gillis
Splunk Sr. Director of Product Management, ObservabilityApril 16
As a reminder, the Geoffrey Moore product vision template requires the following elements: * For [final client], * whose [problem that needs to be solved], * the [name of the product] * is a [product category] * that [key-benefits, reason to buy it]. * Different from [competition alternative], * our product [key-difference]. The product vision should dictate the scope and requirements prioritization of what your development team builds. It is a reminder to the product manager to focus on a particular customer segment, specific needs of those customers, and to remember differentiating aspects of the product when implementing a new feature to the solution. On a daily basis, I am referencing the following aspects of my product vision: 1. Target customers 2. A particular customer problem I'm working on solving 3. Category I work in (like Observability or Security) 4. Reasons why customers will want to use my product over competitors 5. Competitors and how they differ from my product So - I'd say it should drive a fair amount of daily decisions, even though it may not *feel* like it does.
...Read More
406 Views
1 request