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3 ways a Scrum Master can help a Product Owner develop a Product Vision

Why is Product vision important?

“Be stubborn on Vision, flexible on Details” – Jeff Bezos

Product Vision is instrumental in giving teams a shared understanding and a clear direction of where they want to go in future. I often heard from leaders/managers that they must tell their teams what they need to do. Or that we find it very difficult to make our teams self-managing. The main reason I have discovered behind this is there is no Product Vision.

As per the above statement by Jeff Bezos, Product Vision tells you where you want to go and, at the same time, allows you to be flexible with your approaches. Product Vision allows the Product Owner and Scrum Team to make better decisions and order their backlog.

What does Scrum Guide say about Scrum Master helping Product Owner ?

Scrum Guide says:-

“Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:

Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management.”

To put the above statement in perspective, let me say, “Forget Product Backlog Management; you can’t even have a Product Backlog without Product Vision”.

What is the input for generating a Product Backlog if we work backwards? The answer is Product Roadmap. Now, what do you need to create a Product Roadmap? Well, you need a Product Strategy. What is the input required for creating a Product Strategy? Well, you need a Product Vision.

Imagine missing any of these, and you miss alignment completely.

Hence Scrum Master must help the Product Owner create a compelling Product Vision

Let us now talk about three techniques Scrum Master can use to collaborate with the Product Owner to create a Product Vision.

1. Product Vision Box

As a Scrum Master, you can facilitate a “Design-the-box” workshop, where the Product Owner, Stakeholders, Sponsor, and Developers participate. Depending upon the number of participants, the Scrum Master can create groups of four to six people.

Each group imagines a blank Product Box.

Each group has to develop a Product Name, a Product Graphic, and three to four key bullet points on the front of the box to sell the product, a detailed description on the back, operating requirements etc.

The idea is to design the packaging (box) so that when the customer picks it up from the shelf at a retail store, he is compelled to buy it. It is straightforward to come up with fifteen or twenty product features. Figuring out which three or four of these features would propel the customer to buy your software is a different ball game altogether.

2. Customer Letter

Amazon has a lot of techniques which are at the core of how they build products.

One of the techniques used at Amazon is “the working backwards” process. As Steven Covey said in “7 habits of highly effective people”, begin with the end in mind. So here you start your effort with a (pretend) press release.

The idea is that the Product Owner envisions the work to be done by the team by writing an imagined press release about what it would look like once the product is launched.

A variation of this technique is the Customer Letter.

The letter is an imagined customer letter written by a supposedly delighted and impressed customer, explaining to the Product Owner and Scrum Team why they are so happy with the product. The customer talks about how the product has changed or improved their life. The letter describes the future state that the Scrum Team wants to create.

The customer letter keeps the team focused on the outcome, not the output.

As a Scrum Master, facilitate a workshop in which Product Owner, Stakeholders, Sponsor, and Developers help draft this imaginary Customer Letter from the perspective of a hypothetical one of your product’s customer personas.

3. Product Board

Roman Pichler created this technique.

This board is instrumental in capturing the entire concept of the product. The board consists of 5 main elements. The thing is that in this board, you start with four components:-

  • Target Group: In this section, you start with defining the target audience whose needs the product will satisfy.
  • Needs: What challenges and pain points do the above customers face? What are the needs of these customers?
  • Product: Define your product, and discuss features you plan to build that can lead to customer happiness. Mention the attributes of your product.
  • Business Goals: Mention how the product aligns with the company’s business goals. What were the business goals and aspirations behind the inspiration for the product?

As a Scrum Master, facilitate a workshop with the Product Owner, Sponsor, Stakeholders and Developers. Use the below template and paste it onto the wall. As mentioned above this template was created by Roam Pichler. You can download it from https://bit.ly/3A4DhLq.

Once there are enough ideas for the four elements mentioned above, the vision forms the fifth element. You can define it by citing the purpose of the product and how it will benefit the customers.

Please be aware that you need to revisit this board whenever the Scrum Team or Product Owner gathers new information or gets more results from market research or user tests.

Please let us know in the comment section which technique you tried with your Product Owner and what your Product Vision looks like.

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