When you look into the future, what do you see? I see value and that’s where I start.
From great visions come great products. Vision is the beginning. Vision is the driver. Vision decides the end. It is the guiding light. It is the final rule that decides which direction to take all throughout the product lifecycle.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you,” said Steve Jobs. A successful product starts with a purpose. The vision imbibes this purpose. It inspires the team to dream big. It encourages people to create something that will make the world a better place. A vision that envisages millions of dollars, does not resonate with each member of the team. It does not talk to the developers, innovators, marketers and many others. It only gives guidelines for the financial aspects. On the other hand, a vision that articulates a better life for millions of people is something that everyone can identify with. It gives everyone something to work towards. When Philips says, “Our goal is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025,” it inspires innovation. It sets the tone for everything- development, marketing, sales, operations, etc. Every business is helping someone in some way. Every product is built with an aim to create a positive difference. A good vision statement articulates this fact in a way that has a lasting impression on all the stakeholders.
After the goal is set, the real work starts. This is where the vision comes in handy to resolve conflicts and confusions. When Amazon offered the ‘Look Inside the book’ feature, it went up against the authors and the publishers. But Amazon, was staying true to its vision of being ‘earth’s most customer-centric company.’ The feature was aimed at convenience for the customers and it worked. Post the launch of the feature in 2001, book sales on Amazon increased between 5 and 15 percent.  All products, services and even features at Amazon are aimed at making life easier for the customers. Vision statement is the final go-to guide for priortization.
And finally, there comes a time when a product has outlived its usefulness. How do you decide the end? It is the vision that now seems irrelevant. With the rise of mobile phones, PalmPilot’s easy to use, low cost handhelds were no longer required. The value proposition that its vision had envisaged, was no longer relevant. At the cusp of a digital world, even Microsoft has moved away from ‘a computer on every desk, and in every home,’ to ‘help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.’ Computers are no longer in need of adoption but some good technologies are struggling to make an impact. That is where Microsoft’s new vision statement becomes relevant. The statement focusses on putting technology to use.
Many a great products have succumbed to a lack of a vision. Though AltaVista was the first search engine to allow users to search for things using natural language, it lost ground to Google. AltaVista might have been a technological wonder but becoming the world’s best search engine wasn’t the vision with which it was built. It started as a powerful test case for one of Digital’s supercomputers. The organization did not see the opportunity that it’s developers had spotted. Ultimately, AltaVista became a victim of poor strategic direction. There was no direction because there had been no vision for the product.After acquisition of its parent company by Compaq, it was made to look more like a web portal than a search engine.  Without a vision, the path for the product was completely dependent on its handlers.
A vision statement is not a fancy line with unrealistic expectations. It is something that pulls the team together. It is unambiguous, inspiring and relevant for all aspects of the business. It presents the challenge as well as the goal. All products and services are created to deliver revenue but a vision that gives people an opportunity to be a part of something big, draws talent, energy and enthusiasm. It motivates innovative thinking and the at same time reduces dependencies on individual styles of working. It keeps everything focussed. It is the one purpose everyone is working towards. A well thought out vision statement is definitely a wise investment. It is not the only factor but it does go a long way in ensuring success.
 The Amazon Way on IoT by John Rossman,  https://digital.com/about/altavista/