Product discipline is a hot topic for every digital business leader. Why do we need someone who owns everything about the product and guides everyone in the team to design, deliver, and maintain delightful value for the end-users and customers? Even for some other leaders, it is not quite obvious what should they expect from their product person.
These situations trigger me to provide an answer for those who want to shift their mindset from project-based to product-based. Please consider that in some parts of this article, we decide to point out product discipline as a whole regardless of the Product Management or Product Ownership concepts. But, to bring the concept to real life, we going to focus on Product Owner accountability. This is due to the important level of Agility and Scrum usage in digital product development teams throughout the world. Let’s get familiar with the product gap and what Advanced Product Ownership can do for businesses to fill that.
The accountability of a Product Owner is quite vital to the success of a product. After years of introducing Scrum and Product Ownership, we are still facing different perspectives about the perfect Product Owner analysis skill-set in many businesses. The perfect analysis always comes from the perfect PO mindset. One of the important concepts that can shape the product owner’s mindset is 3Vs. 3Vs refer to Vision, Value, and Validation as three inseparable parts of Advanced Product Ownership Analysis. In this article, we are going to discuss the specific root cause that created the 3Vs concept, the WHAT behind it, and its three parts.
The creation of 3Vs
A business has different layers of planning. Some of these layers are related to macro goals and some of them have more details in operation and product development. Imagine a company that uses Scrum for product development. This company experiences these layers of planning for both the business side and the product side:
As displayed in the previous image, on the one hand, the first two layers – Company Vision and Business Strategy – are completely related to the board of directors and CEO. The CEO is accountable for determining and sharing the company vision and the business strategy with the whole company, so people are aware of the company’s direction and can align their activities with it. On the other hand, we see the daily plan at the core part which itself is a part of the Sprint plan in the Scrum teams. Both of these plans are dedicated to the development team.
To achieve the Sprint Goal, the development team plans for the Sprint and then inspects and adapts the plan on a daily manner, so they can balance their efforts during the journey of achieving the Sprint Goal. As a result, we can see a huge gap between the macro plans of the company and the detailed development team plans. We call this the ‘Product Gap’. To avoid misalignment between the company and its development team efforts we need to fill this gap. To fill this, we need to use the 3Vs concept. Vision, Value, and Validation!
Vision brings clarity! To bring clarity to the product team, the Product Owner should define a purpose – the WHY behind the product – so he or she has to define the product vision. The product vision should align with the business strategy and the company vision. This alignment helps the product team to deliver the right value for the right market at the right time. But the question arises here… How a product team can achieve its vision? The short answer is by continuously defining and delivering value.
Imagine a company named ‘NOVA’ that provides products in financial services. Recently, this company adopt the Scrum framework for its product development. They hired an experienced PO to help them shape their product journey. The first and high-priority activity for a product is always related to its vision. So, she decides to define a product vision for their Neobank product:
Product Vision: ‘Control your entire financial life in one place.’
Pro Tips for Defining Vision:
- Think about the ‘why’ of your product.
- Share your belief about the product. Why do you want to build this product?
- Define the positive change that this product brings to the target customers/users’ life after using it.
Value is a concept that you promise to deliver to specific customers and users. It makes someone’s life or works better, delightful, and enjoyable. To experience an Advanced level of Product Ownership Analysis, POs should know this important fact that every business and every product exists to design, define, create, deliver, maintain, and optimize value for their customers. The continuous value delivery and value optimization empower Product Owners to satisfy their customers and users and also improve the chance of penetrating new markets in the foreseeable or long-term future.
Let’s back to our Neobank PO. Here based on the vision she defined for her product, she is going to identify and define the right values for the targeted product persona. Some of the value props that she defines for the product could be:
Product Values: Access to all banking services anytime anywhere and flexible, easy to modify virtual client relations.
Pro Tips for Defining Value:
- Think about how your product can make life/work easier than now for the target customers/users.
- Define the customers/users’ jobs-to-be-done and the related pains and gains.
- For each pain and gain, try to describe one or more pain relievers and gain creators.
Validation is always played an unavoidable role in every product success story. First, an advanced-level Product Ownership validates requirements before sharing them for development. Then he or she validates the product idea for development so he/she ensure about problem-solution fit. So, the product validation helps POs to go beyond their assumptions and guesses and face the real-life experience of the market and their customers.
Our NOVA company PO chooses to follow one of the important Agile principles. Deliver software frequently, with the preference of shorter time scale. She designs a good-enough release plan with the help of the Scrum team and builds a prioritized Product Backlog to represent User Stories for developers. So developers can focus on the high-priority items for each Sprint to develop and deliver the increment of the product. This Agile principle helps her and her team to validate the requirements and also the increment that they provide for end-users when they release some parts of the product. This validation plays a key role in future inspection and adaptation of the team through the journey of delivering value via their products.
Pro Tips for Validation:
- Gather a list of validation topics related to assumptions or questions.
- Categorize these items into two categories: Problem Space – Solution Space
- Validate the problem space items with journey maps and value props canvas.
- Validate the solution space items with low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototypes or even light developed version of your product.
Now that we recognized what is the 3Vs concept and how NOVA’s Product Owner defines the vision, value, and validation, we should mention how POs can integrate this concept into their daily life.
Read Aidan’s previous article on Mind the Product: Developing innovative digital products
The last word
Advanced Product Ownership analysis comes from an advanced-level PO mindset. This mindset guides product people in every business to fill the gap between high-level layers of business activities and tech-level layers. This results in focusing on the 3Vs concept. Knowing and implementing the 3Vs in a truly perfect way, helps POs provide a delightful product experience for their users and customers by defining the human-centered product vision, product strategy, and product validation. This concept is one of the key points in the Advanced-Level Product Ownership Analysis journey.