27 / Product Success Starts with a Clear Vision


A product’s vision communicates the change we want to bring to the world. It starts with why, but in the same breath also answers for whom. That’s why the best vision statements are outwardly focused. Product teams craft them not to declare our own goals and aspirations. But to focus attention and energy around the problems we want to solve for our users.

In this episode of the Product Momentum Podcast, Radhika Dutt sits down with Sean and Paul to explain how vision-driven products not only clarify the why and for whom. But they also resist the common diseases that afflict product success. In the absence of a clear vision statement that is uniquely our own, we work without direction. We confuse activity with purposeful effort. And we deliver solutions to problems our users don’t have.

But bringing vision and strategy isn’t enough. Product leaders and their teams need to translate vision and strategy into action. Radical Product Thinking, a movement co-founded by Radhika, provides a step-by-step approach to help teams build game-changing products. It guides teams through a process of applying sound vision, actionable strategy, and effective prioritization to prevent the ailments that end up killing products.

What to listen for:

[01:09]  Maintaining momentum through iteration. The right way to build products is through iteration, but we also need to limit the number of iterations by eliminating the unnecessary ones.

[03:29]  The 2 extremes of Vision statements. One aims to disrupt, reinvent, or revolutionize. The other is focused on business objectives.

[05:03]  Vision statements must be outwardly focused. Users don’t care about a company’s “best in class” aspirations.

[05:36]  3 product diseases. Strategic swelling, obsessive sales disorder, pivotitis.

[06:21]  Radical Product Thinking. It’s a response to repeatedly running into these same diseases no matter the size of the company or the industry you’re in.

[07:58]  Follow your North Star. But don’t be afraid to step back and say, “Wait a minute; we’re following the wrong star.”

[10:34]  Is there risk in being too tied to a vision?

[13:00]  Use your vision as a filter. Does this feature I’m working on align with my vision?

[14:07]  A strategy has to be flexible enough to allow you to adapt in the face of market realities.

[16:25]  Anything can be a product. Based on the commonalities, even a government policy can be a product.

[21:05]  Align your vision to where people want to go anyway. That way, the product isn’t forcing people to change. It’s adapting to what is going to be.

[22:41]  Serving multiple personas in 2-sided markets. Use your North Star to determine where your true loyalty lies.

[25:19]  How to prioritize a feature. A balance between helping me survive the quarter and fulfilling my vision.

[27:37]  Business KPIs and Product KPIs. The Ying and Yang that helps you progress toward the vision while tracking your business success.

[31:14]  Innovation. Changing people’s lives for the better.

[32:00]  Accidental Villains. As you change one person’s life for the better, you’re changing someone else’s for the worse.

[33:36]  Empathy. It’s not just about product managers showing empathy for their users. It has to happen across the whole organization.

[34:05]  Organizational cactus. The internal friction that leads to the accumulation of vision debt.

Radhika’s Recommended Reading

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries.

About Radhika

Radhika Dutt is an entrepreneur and product leader who has participated in four acquisitions as a result of the products she built; two of these were companies she founded.

She advises organizations from high-tech startups to government agencies on building game-changing products. She co-founded Radical Product Thinking as a movement of leaders creating vision-driven change.

Radhika graduated from MIT with SB and M.Eng degrees in Electrical Engineering. She speaks nine languages and is learning her tenth.

You can follow her on her Medium publication, Radical Product or LinkedIn.

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