How often do you change your vision & why?
Product vision distills why a product does what it does and how it envisions the future. As we saw above, it's critical to spend time crafting the product vision and the strategic narrative that follows from it. Two firms that had brilliant product visions and have built world-class & global platforms changed their product visions a few years ago. The new product visions have spurred these firms to greater heights!
- Facebook changed its vision statement from “Making the world more open and connected” to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. Facebook’s original mission was one of the best during its time and helped Facebook connect the world through the FB App, Instagram & WhatsApp. It also helped in making the world more open by the products they built such as Groups, Marketplace, Newsfeed, etc.
- This mission helped Facebook grow into the largest social media firm in the world and in having the most number of users. But, the world has also changed in the 10-years since Facebook wrote the original mission and the same openness they lived by led to fake news, online trolling & hatred and people feeling miserable on social media.
- Facebook did a pivot to their new vision statement, where they realized that the goal is to help the users build community. The second part of the vision statement is about bringing the world closer, not further. This new statement has worked very well as the firm has refocused on users, reduced fake news and offered tools for users, small merchants, insta influencers, etc to build communities and monetise better
- Likewise, Google changed its vision statement from ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ to ‘provide access to the world’s information in one click’.
- The first vision statement worked for Google when they were a search engine and the internet was accessed from desktops (& laptops) using browsers. This vision statement helped Google index the world’s information and become the default search engine for the world. Becoming the default search engine also meant offering multiple languages and expanding beyond text into images, videos, etc and they did a stellar job there also
- The iPhone changed it all and over the past 10-years, people access the internet through apps, smartphone widgets and mobile web, rather than the desktop. People’s attention spans are decreasing and every firm & app is focusing on getting information within fewer clicks. The new vision statement acknowledges and has enabled Google to focus on building the best Mobile Apps across Maps, Search, Photos, etc and the best operating systems & browsers.
- Both examples above highlight great companies that executed brilliantly on their original vision statements but realized that their user’s needs and the world around them was changing. They then changed their vision statements to acknowledge the changes and enable them to expand & grow with the new world.
- Apple’s name change from Apple Computer to Apple Inc is another change along the same lines
- Apple also changed their vision statement from ‘make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind’ to ‘bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software and services’
Ideally the vision statement never changes. Practically, it makes sense to revisit when you: (1) are close to achieving your original vision, (2) when there are significant events that impact your product direction. Its likely something that happens every few (4-5+) years not every year.