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What is your process of setting a vision when you join a new company?

Vasanth Arunachalam
Vasanth Arunachalam
Meta Director, Technical Program ManagementAugust 10

I’m assuming the question is about setting a ‘team’ vision/mission and one doesn’t exist yet. The mission statement is the “What” and the vision statement is an ambitious future state of what the world might look like when you accomplish your mission.

A crisp vision/mission statement serves as a strong identity for your team and guides them during critical moments of decision making, gaining alignment, prioritizing resources etc. Here is a framework that I’ve leveraged in the past to arrive at a vision/mission statement for my teams, collaborating with our cross-functional partners. Have each person in the working group articulate the following in once sentence.

  • Understand our role
    • Why do we exist?
    • What is our purpose?
    • What principles drive our product building?
  • Understand our customers
    • What does research tell us?
    • What problems do they have?
    • How are we helping them?
  • Understand how the future looks like
    • What’ll happen if we didn’t exist?
    • What does success look like?

Next, create the vision and mission statements based on common themes and ensure it aligns with the company’s vision & mission. These statements should typically be short, start with a verb, strive to be aspirational and endure the test of time. Once the working group of cross functional partners align, socialize with key stakeholders and the broader org. You might want to consider doing a branding splash (new logo, ordering swags) to get people excited about the new vision & mission.

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Aleks Bass
Aleks Bass
Typeform Chief Product OfficerFebruary 28

Every new job I've taken has had a pretty specific challenge I was hired to solve, and I was fortunate to have that clarity (at least at a high level). 

When I start in the new role, I focus on the following elements:

  • Build relationships with my team and cross-functional partners
  • Learn about the industry
  • Study competitors
  • Explore the product in detail
  • Collect as much customer feedback and usage data as I can get my hands on
  • And last but not least, find all the skeletons (or as many as I can).
    - What does the sales team wish they had that the product team just won't prioritize?
    - What does customer success wish the product team did so they would get fewer repetitive requests?
    - What does the team struggle with when trying to ship high-quality products with velocity?
    - And I dig into these topics with each cross-functional partner. While I'm doing this, I'm also looking for things that have been tried and didn't work before.

Once I have all that perspective, I pull together some data on the market, industry, competitors, and any other stimuli I think might be helpful for the team to have. I then schedule a brainstorming session. In this session, I guide the team through a series of exercises to uncover common themes we can align our initiatives around. In addition, I make meaningful progress based on the pain points they have all been voicing in my discovery sessions.

Once I'm satisfied that I've pulled every last idea out of this group, I go off and start to create the skeleton of the vision. I ask key members of the team to do the same and schedule a follow-up where we can discuss it. From my point of view, we work together until the vision is complete. This usually means that it addresses many of the pain points and the broader team feels like they have been heard. I make any changes that are requested and then the socialization tour begins because, without alignment, your vision isn't getting very far.

This recipe has worked consistently with slight modifications for each role. Hope it helps!

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Anton Kravchenko
Anton Kravchenko
Carta Sr. Director of Product ManagementMarch 14

I like to start by understanding the historical context and how teams arrived at where they are. What decisions were made and why. What worked well and what didn't go according to the plan.

Starting there also enables me to build early relationships with key stakeholders and understand the collective vision for the product area. 

Then, I like to take a fresh look at things by taking an outside-in look. This is when I research market trends and competitor strategies. This helps me learn from others in the industry and have a broader pulse for customer needs. 

434 Views
Tara Wellington
Tara Wellington
BILL Senior Director of Product ManagementDecember 19

The process that I go through when setting a vision when I join a new company is:

  • Listen & Learn

  • Research & Optionality

  • Draft & Edit

  • Share

Listen & Learn

It is very hard to write a product vision with no context. When I start at a new company, I try not to make any decisions for 30 days. I start by doing a listening tour around the company. I ask everyone the same set of questions - and always finish with "who else do you think I should talk to?" The goal of this 30 days is to learn:

  • The product

  • The culture

  • The problems that people perceive need to be addressed

  • The customer

  • The business

  • The market

Research & Optionality

After about 30 days - and usually between 50-100 interviews around the company - you can get a pretty good idea of where you want to focus. Once you have some rough ideas of the focus areas, you can start to move into more targeted research. When I am doing a product vision, I usually have 4 main research focus areas:

  • Market opportunity (TAM, competitors, differentiators)

  • Customer target (who exactly is this vision for)

  • Product value prop (what is the key value of the product in the vision)

  • Product execution (understand what needs to change in the product to achieve this value prop)

I start with looking into existing research the company has already done, then usually try to do at least 2 new research studies (1) Existing customer interviews, (2) Prospect customer quant survey, and if possible (3) Market / expert interviews. One I get through the initial research, I start to develop the options that we have. Then use the research to help me understand which option i want to recommend.

Draft & Edit

I then draft the options and the recommendations with supporting evidence from the research. For vision work, I like to work with design to have some visual elements to make the vision more tangible. Then I share the work as early as possible in draft form with key stakeholders. This helps to make sure that people have a chance to feel like part of the process, as well as get their expert opinions. I make edits to incorporate their feedback where it makes sense.

Share

Once I have edited the vision with feedback and updates (this helps with the alignment process) - I share with stakeholders in order of importance. By importance, I mean in order of importance to the next step of the sharing. I would start with CEO, then executives, then product and eng leadership, the revenue leadership, then managers, then the company. And check at each stage how the reaction is before moving to the next phase. Then repeat and make the vision as visible and connected to the work as possible. This helps to ensure the vision doesn't just go into a drawer and not have any impact. You want people thinking about the vision on a regular basis. Some ways to do this are: Start every all hands with a slide on it, ask people how their product plans will help reach the vision, set goals that are related to the vision, use the same language from the vision in product initiatives.

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