All related (5)
Samantha Ugulava
Senior Product Manager, Enterprise Agility, AtlassianNovember 22

In my experience, I've found the best way to successfully pivot your product vision is to make sure your stakeholders are clear on the why, when, and how. Part of bringing a vision to life is rallying your team and getting your stakeholders excited about what's to come. In my last three roles, I've been hired to lead product teams that have recently gone through a lot of turnover. The designers and engineers appear to be skeptical of product, demoralized, and disconnected from the rest of the organization. Often times, it's my job to build trust and give the team a vision to rally behind.

The why

To successfully pivot your product vision, you have to earn your team (and leadership's) trust. I've found the best way to do that is by clearly communicating why the vision is changing. You will need to support your vision with data and research. For example, I was able to cite customer interviews, data, and other research when I had to shift my team's product vision to increasing creator confidence when drafting content in Confluence. That data was especially important because "confidence" is a hard thing to measure. My engineers were never going to get excited about such an intantible problem like "lack of confidence" unless I could prove creators were struggling and that we would be able to measure success when we built new features.

The when

For leaders and triad partners: communicate early and often.

Creating a product vision requires teamwork. You will likely work with your engineering manager, product designer, and manager to start drafting a new product vision. It's important to share early versions with your triad and leaders so that you can bring them along, get feedback, and make sure you're all going in the same direction.

For your team: communicate when the vision is ready to stand up to tough questions.

As a PM, I've been on the receiving end of a product's vision changing. In my experience, there's nothing worse than a leader telling you the vision is changing, but it's not ready or they don't have answers to basic questions yet. This kind of uncertainty is terrifying and leaves too much time to make assumptions. Will my work be impacted? Are my projects getting killed? Etc.

Instead, your product vision should be very close to done. You'll want to leave room for feedback from your team, but you want to make sure your product vision has been pressure-tested. Why? Because teams need stability in times of transition, and it's your job to rally your team around a new direction. You can't do that if it's easy to poke holes in the logic or your vision falls apart because you don't have enough data behind it.

The how

For leadership, I do this through written documentation, supported by data and research, and then a live presentation where I can answer questions, get feedback, and refine.

For my team, I set multiple AMAs and share my page ahead of time. Earlier in my career, I would often get frustrated when I had to present the product vision and answer questions from engineers multiple times. During Covid, it was easy to assume that no one was paying attention if the majority of my team had their camera off, but I've learned that people need to hear information 2 or 3 times before they can fully digest new information and get to a point where they feel comfortable asking meaningful questions to help them understand the "why" behind a change.

Sriram Iyer
GM / Head of Products and Partnerships, Adobe DVA, Adobe | Formerly Salesforce, DeloitteMay 3

Pretty much the same stencil that I used to answer the previous question. If you are pivoting, I'd assume that one or more of these elements below have changed. So I'd use this framework to re-examine the sweet spot that you need to land on to be effective and win this next time around.

Some elements to consider -

1. Market - Market landscape, gaps, and market opportunities. You want to work on an impactful problem area. Key Geos you will play in. etc.

2. Key vectors - I also like to play at the intersection of 2-3 key growth vectors - so I know directionally I am betting in the right space. So, for example, you could be bullish on video as an explosive growth area for content and creativity and marketing, and you could be bullish on cloud as a universal enabler for key digital transformations across industries and domains, and you could be bullish on AI/ML as the key differentiator for step-change in productivity and efficiency gains - then, you could perhaps target a gap/opportunity that sits at the intersection of video, cloud and AI/ML. Research can provide you with the ammunition to establish these key growth vectors as foundational building blocks for your vision.

3. TAM - The TAM has to be worth it. What is the rTAM for your area? And how do you slice that rTAM by different personas?

4. Personas - You also research the key personas and other stakeholders who will benefit. Ideally, you have one persona who you are zoning in on. And your solution has a halo effect on other stakeholder personas.

5. Competition - who are existing incumbents or future competitors you have to be aware of as you get into this game?

6. Profitability / Share of wallet / Willingness to pay - This is key to identify right upfront so you know your path to monetization and profitability. What is your "profit puppy"? What are your COGS and how are you going to cover them? etc.

7. Key workflow - You want to nail the key workflows that your solution will enable and transform. Ultimately painting a picture using UX design and walkthroughs of these key workflows will help you sell your vision and make it a reality.

8. Winning aspiration - What does "winning" mean in this landscape? It's important to research and write that "key zen" statement out so it's crystal clear.

Once these elements exist, creating a crisp vision statement highlighting the problem areas, key gaps, key personas that this is for, and your winning "zen" etc. becomes easy.