Internal transparency allows teams to work faster and with the confidence that they’re contributing to their company’s high-level goals. To achieve internal transparency you need to keep three steps in mind.
The first step is to establish a product canvas with your executive team. The second is to work with your teams to identify priorities. And the third is to prioritize and share your product roadmap. In this post, we’ll be covering the first step. For steps two and three, read the full article in the latest issue of Pragmatic Marketer.
To establish a product canvas, take the many versions and beliefs about what your product is and why it exists and pick just one.
Who are you building for? What are you working towards in the short term? Long term? What’s your vision? How are you and your approach different from competitors? What sets you apart?
If the answers are clear to all, great. But what if your executive team is split on these details? What if they’re undecided? This is where the product canvas comes in. A product canvas is a one-page document that outlines key product elements and business goals:
- Vision—What does our company do? Where do we want to be in five years?
- Description—How do people describe the product? What’s the official verbiage/pitch to use?
- User Personas—Who are we building for? Who are our target customers and target users?
- Objectives/KPIs—What do our customers want? What do we as a business want?
The canvas forms the basis of your product strategy and acts as a guide for product decisions downstream. Typically, it’s created once and reviewed every few months to ensure it still describes the product effectively.
This is high-level stuff that needs to be a collaborative effort. So, bring your executive team to the table to work it out with you. This serves the dual purpose of gaining their support and buy-in.
First, provide each person with a blank copy of the product canvas and have them independently fill it out. Next, ask each person to share their answers. Unless you have created a product canvas before, chances are that everyone will produce a different set of answers. And that’s fine. The goal of this meeting (or series of meetings) is to disagree and reconcile discrepancies.
If someone believes the target user persona is X but no one else agrees, you need to discuss that discrepancy. This is something that will determine the direction of your product, so figure it out and make a firm decision. You don’t want to butt heads later in the product development process when the stakes are much higher.
When you are done, freely share the completed canvas with the team. Print out copies and stick them up on the walls around the office as a reference point. You can use it to defend your product decisions, and your colleagues can use it to challenge them.
The product canvas should serve as a single source of truth. If you can’t trace your priorities directly back to it, you’re on the wrong track.