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Create a vision

A vision statement acts as a north star that motivates and guides the team, conveying the overarching goal the team is aiming for. It lets everyone tell the same story, with the same passion and conviction. It’s also a short “elevator pitch” that helps you communicate clearly about the value of the work you’re doing to anyone at any time so you can quickly galvanize support.

It’s important to take the time to get the vision statement right. The goals, strategy, roadmap, backlog, execution, and delivery will all flow from the vision.

While you can undoubtedly come up with a great vision for the project all by yourself, it’s not sustainable because ultimately you’re going to have to walk away from this project and leave it in your partner’s hands. Our goal is to help our partners grow their internal practices, and teaching them how to set a strong vision is an important step on that journey. You will revisit and may adjust your vision at times as you learn more, but maintaining a clear, inclusive vision is critical to product success.

Considerations: A good vision statement…

  • Is clear, concise, informative, and inspirational

  • Is ambitious yet achievable; it should provide direction for years, not months

  • Makes clear the problem you are solving, who you are trying to help, how you will help, and the outcome you hope to achieve

  • Indicates why your solution is different or better than others

  • Focuses on outcomes and objectives, rather than specific implementation details, and provides strategic direction for the team

  • Supports the broader goals of the organization

  • Has buy-in and commitment from the development team, executive sponsors, and any other key participants

Activities: How to get there

Vision statements can be written at different levels or granularities, so you may find yourself needing to use different approaches or techniques based on the level you’re focused on.

  • Reference your user research findings and problem statement(s) to articulate the problem you are focusing on solving and why it is meaningful.

  • Identify the key differentiators that will make your ideal state better for users than the current state or existing alternatives.

  • Identify measurable outcomes or success scenarios that communicate the positive impact of the intended changes and help you determine if you’re on the right track.

  • Draft potential vision statements with the partner, merging and refining as appropriate to create an overarching statement that resonates with the team.

Incorporation: What to do next

  • Document the vision and keep it visible and central.

  • Refer to the vision regularly to prioritize work and develop a strategy and roadmap to execute on the vision.

  • Regularly reconsider the vision and update as appropriate.

Resources

  • What is a vision statement [1]: An overview of what makes a good vision statement, some examples, and why vision statements are important.

  • What is a vision statement [2]: A fill-in-the-blanks product vision template that answers who the target user and need is, the key benefits the product is meant to deliver, and how it will be different from what’s currently available.

  • How to create a vision statement [1]: A workshop format to generate the elements of a vision, including who is affected, what’s the problem, how are we helping, what’s the outcome, how will our solution be different, and how will we measure success.

  • How to create a vision statement [3]: An example of a workshop that builds off research findings to refine a vision statement by asking whose needs should we serve first, what problems should be our starting focus, which success scenarios must we enable, and how do we want people to describe our product.

  • How to create a vision statement [4]: An example of a workshop that builds off research themes and problem statements to develop a vision by asking what new capabilities and experiences we envision, how do we want people to describe our product, and what are our indicators of success, along with a briefing deck to introduce the workshop.

  • How to create a vision statement [5]: A version of a hopes & fears exercise to define what success and distress look like, as well as associated results, to help align on a top priority goal.

18F Product Guide

An official website of the GSA’s Technology Transformation Services

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