Product Vision & Objectives – notes on “How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” – #5/11

Product Vision & Objectives - notes on "How to Create Tech Products Customers Love"

Product Vision & Objectives

The Product Strategy executes the Product Vision and is framed by Product Principles.

“Be stubborn on vision, but flexible on details.”

Jeff Bezos

Product Vision, Strategy and Principles come from the leadership team! When initial founders leave, it’s time for a new Vision by the new leadership team.

Product Vision

The Product Vision paints the picture of what you’re trying to achieve. Typically, the vision is the single-best recruiting tool to attract talent. The vision inspires, is not a spec, is emotional and oversees 3-10 years.

  • Good example of a well formulated vision from Workiva

“We founded Workiva with you in mind. Our vision has always been to modernize the way our customers manage business data by connecting collaborators, documents, and spreadsheets. The platform allows structured and unstructured data to be aggregated and connected across reporting and compliance outputs, including presentations, spreadsheets, and reports.”

Product Strategy

The Product Strategy is the path to make the vision happen. The strategy is unique to every company. It is a tool to focus on specific segments (e.g. vertical market, persona, geography, capability). To succeed implementing the strategy it’s more important to have any sequential approach to the segments than on what to focus first. Apple chose the initial customer target group to be the iPod adopters for the iPhone launch. Only the 3rd iteration was targeted at the mass markets.

Tesla’s vision in the beginning was: “… our goal is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to the market as soon as possible …”. (Tesla’s vision today and an analysis of Tesla’s vision and mission in 2018)

To bring this vision alive, Tesla worked on a risk based product strategy. In a first attempt, they addressed the risk of building a battery that could power a car for 200 miles. Solving this problem produced the Tesla Roadster which is basically an electrified Lotus Elise. The next biggest risk to implement the vision successfully was to design and build a car. That produced the Tesla Model S. The final risk to tackle was manufacturing at scale – for the mass market. This produced the Tesla Model 3 – a mass market car for about 35.000 USD.

  • Risk #1: build a battery and run for 200mls –> Tesla Roadster (electrified Lotus)
  • Risk #2: design and build a car –> Tesla Model S
  • Risk #3: manufacture mass market ready (35.000 USD) car at scale –> Tesla Model 3

Homework for every (!) Product Manager: 1) Work with Google AdWords and book a campaign 2) Drive a Tesla.

Product Principles

The Product Principles describe the nature of the products you intend to create and reflect your beliefs about what’s important. They give guidance in cases of conflicts – e.g. eBay’s product principle: “buyer experience optimization is more important than fulfilling sellers needs”. In cases when the needs of the buyer and the needs of the seller conflict, eBay will optimize in favor of the buyer, because the most important thing eBay can do for sellers is to ensure a large number of happy buyers.

The Product Principles are not obvious, should be top of mind and they’re not laws, but violating should be conscious.


“Never tell people how to do things; Tell them what you need them to accomplish and let them surprise you with their ingenuity.”

General George Patton

Objectives & Key Results – OKR

A successful way to make objectives and expectations transparent to a whole organization are OKR’s – Objectives & Key Results. OKR’s are for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. OKR bring focus on business and product goals. The Objectives align with qualitative business and / or product goals and are synchronized with the overall strategy. The Key Results are quantitative measurable outcomes working towards the Objectives. OKR’s do replace feature roadmaps and ensure we’re working on the most important things. They also allow High Integrity Commitments for time critical objectives.

OKR’s were initially implemented by Andy Grove (then-CEO) at Intel. More on OKR’s at wikipedia or in Christina Wodtke’s book “Radical Focus”.

Two types of Key Results:

  • Aspirational results are meant to inspire thinking big
    Objecitve: “Speed up customer onboarding”
    Team: “with 50% confidence we’ll manage to get it down from 60 to 20 days
  • Commitment results are meant to be counted on
    Team is aked for a High Integrity Commitment: do enough research to figure the 4 risks (value, usability, feasibility, viability) to make the commitment

OKR’s – Key Points

  • Set the objective first, then the measurement
  • Focus on outcome, not output
  • Focus on organizational and team-level OKR’s
  • Make them public, visit your progress at least weekly
  • Focus on a small number of OKR’s

If the team misses all objectives, don’t fire them. Sit down with them an do a post-mortem – understand what happened and make them accountable.

Example – organizational OKR’s

Grow the core business‣ Total revenue + 10%
‣ $XX from new Partnerships
Diversify revenue‣ > 30% revenue from non-core business
‣ Product-Market-Fit (PMF) on one new expansion vertical
Improve customer satisfaction‣ Customer churn < 5%
‣ NPS > 55

Example – Team Level OKR’s (B2B)

Discover our core customer value (PMF)‣ 12 new customers on new product
‣ 8 reference customers (>4 new)
Dramatically improve end-user engagement‣ > 80 of licenses sold active after 30d
‣ avg. 3+ logins per user per week
Drive a step-function revenue increase from core‣ +20% top-line $ growth YoY
‣ Monthly / Annual ration > 4/1
Dramatically up-level our infrastructure‣ Customer can deploy PoC in < 5 mins
‣ >90% automated test coverage
‣ Reduce latency by 50%

Example – Team Level OKR’s (B2C)

Increase the organic user base‣ Increase per-day views by 20%
‣ 10% new users from viral referral
Improve end-user engagement‣ Avg. 3+ logins per user, per week
‣ Avg. 60+ minutes per user session
Simplify onboarding‣ Reduce avg. to 20 sec
‣ Increase task completion to 90%
‣ Retention +20%
Dramatically up-level our infrastructure‣ Automate build process
‣ > 90% automated test coverage
‣ Reduce latency by 50%

Don’t do this with OKR’s

Don’t crash your organization – it needs to be ready. OKR’s as a leadership instrument are great, if the surroundings are right. Successful OKR implementations need the right culture, they need companies with empowered employees, with empowered teams. If applied at any other organization, the culture will clash.

Don’t do individual or functional OKR’s. Focus on organizational and team-level OKR’s.

Don’t link financial compensation to OKR’s – NEVER. Every product person should have equity in the organization. Incentive based compensation is not good for people’s motivation.

This blog post is part of a series. It summarizes my personal notes of the workshop held by Marty Cagan “How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” from 5th to 6th of June in 2019 in San Francisco.

3 thoughts on “Product Vision & Objectives – notes on “How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” – #5/11

  1. Pingback: OKR's - uncovered. An Overview on Objectives & Key Results.

  2. Pingback: Key Terms and Concepts - notes on "How to Create Tech Products Customers Love" - #3/11 -

  3. Pingback: Foreword - personal notes on "How to Create Tech Products Customers Love" - #1/11

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