“I think the traits that probably separates the very successful people from the rest is the kind of vision they have. Even before you look at instincts or data … For example Vimal, the founder of Juspay, for him to think [of a grand vision] of an innovation in UPI, I still can’t wrap my head around”
This is what Karthik Kumar, a Product Manager at Juspay, told us in the first edition of Product Vault, a podcast by Cyces. Karthik was taking us behind the scenes of the Paytm Soundbox, which is used by 75 lakh merchants in India. He was part of the product development team in 2018.
With his diverse experience comes a valuable set of opinions. We wanted to know his product philosophy, or to put it simply, how he runs experiments.
Does he rely only on data, or does he give his instincts a priority? That’s when he mentions, having a vision is more important than knowing how to run experiments.
What is Vision in the Context of Product Development?
Every product starts as an idea, a solution to a problem, or an answer to a need. But beyond the immediate solution lies a path of evolution, scalability, and transformation that can only be foreseen with a clear vision. Vision in product development is not just about what the product is now but what it could be in the future. It’s the lighthouse that guides the product through the turbulent waters of the market.
The Role of Vision in Determining Product Direction:
Imagine sailing a ship without a destination in mind. Even the most advanced navigation systems or the best sailors won't be of much help. Vision sets the destination for the product. It aligns every stakeholder, from developers to marketers, towards a common goal. When faced with challenges, a well-defined vision provides clarity on which path to take, ensuring that the core essence of the product is never lost.
The Pitfalls of Ignoring Vision:
Every product starts with an intention, a goal, or a solution to an identified problem. However, without a vision guiding its evolution, the product can quickly become directionless and lose its relevance. The absence of vision can lead to several setbacks:
Without a guiding vision, product teams may become hyper-focused on immediate problems, missing out on long-term opportunities. While it's essential to address current challenges, being too reactive and not proactive can hinder growth.
A product developed without a guiding vision may end up with disjointed features or services that don’t harmonize. This can confuse users and dilute the product's core value proposition.
In the face of numerous potential features and improvements, a clear vision helps in prioritizing what aligns best with the long-term strategy. Without it, teams may spend resources on less impactful initiatives.
Companies that have a clear vision often lead the market, setting standards and trends. Those without a vision tend to follow, always playing catch-up and often becoming obsolete.
How to Cultivate a Strong Vision:
Developing a clear, actionable vision is both an art and a science. Here are steps and strategies that can help:
Begin by deeply understanding the user's needs, pain points, and aspirations. This user-centric approach ensures that the vision remains relevant and valuable.
updated with industry trends, technological advancements, and market shifts. This helps in anticipating future scenarios and adjusting the vision accordingly.
A shared vision, built upon collective insights and perspectives, often has more depth. Engage with cross-functional teams, stakeholders, and even users to refine the product's vision.
Encourage a mindset where every team member feels responsible for the product's vision. Regularly revisit and reinforce the vision, ensuring it remains a central part of discussions and decisions.
While the core of the vision may remain unchanged, the strategies and paths to achieve it might need adjustments. Stay open to feedback and be willing to adapt when necessary.
To quote Steve Jobs, "If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you." By cultivating a strong vision, product managers can ensure that their products not only solve problems but also leave a lasting impact.