How NASA Built an Innovation Program

Learning & Development Executive Summit Spring

By:

Every startup and growth-oriented business needs to focus on innovation in order to come up with compelling brand stories and messages, engaging products and services, and amazing marketing tactics that will put the company on the map and allow it to become an authority in its niche.

One of the essential elements of successful innovation is the ability to create a powerful and engaging product vision, an overarching plan that you need to build before trying to push any new products into the competitive market.

In a nutshell, the product vision is your long-term, all-encompassing plan for your new product that looks beyond the first few months and even the first year of its life, and instead focuses on the bigger picture. This vision serves as the foundation for your entire product-development strategy, which will allow you to ensure the success of your product in the next decade and the growth of your company. With that in mind, here are the steps you need to take to create a strong product vision.

Lead product workshops

It should go without saying that creating a product vision is not a one-person process, or at least it shouldn’t be. Given its complexity and the numerous internal and external factors that will guide the development process in the months to come, it’s important that you surround yourself with visionaries and experienced individuals from different departments so that you can conduct successful workshops that will generate quality ideas and help you shape your vision.

This means that you should let your key employees in on the process, and that you should organize frequent brainstorming workshops. You can divide into smaller teams and discuss product and vision pain-points and questions, future challenges, and more. Try to come up with as many solutions on the spot as you can, and then compare and contrast with other teams.

Innovate with a product vision board

To help you conduct product vision workshops in an efficient and effective way, it’s also important to utilize the product vision board. You can use a whiteboard in the conference room, a digital one that everyone will have on their laptops, or you can draw one on a piece of paper – the important thing is to outline the key elements that will help you drive the innovation process forward. The product vision board is commonly used in design thinking as it allows business leaders to come up with effective solutions to complex problems in a reasonable timeframe.

The key elements of a product vision board include your target demographic, their needs/pain-points/challenges, your product features and attributes that answer solve these problems, your business goals and how the product contributes to business growth, and of course, the overarching vision. Start with your long-term vision at the top, and work your way down through these categories using relevant industry insights and concrete data.

Make your vision easy to understand

In order to “sell” your vision to all key actors and stakeholders, such as your employees, your vendors and retailers, your investors, etc., you will need to combine actionable data with compelling visual elements that will tell the story of your product in a way that people will understand. This is why it’s important to create visual content that captures all of these elements and conveys key information in an appealing way.

In recent years, this has been a big focus of companies like Infostarters to create extensive and visually-appealing product catalogues and brochures that capture the essence of the brand, the product vision, and combine these elements with the relevant data from your product vision boards. This type of engaging visual content is great for presentations and workshops, you can use it for your sales and marketing strategies, and it helps put the entire project into perspective.

How do you know your vision is any good?

This is a common problem many business leaders face after numerous brainstorming sessions and product vision workshops. With all of these ideas flowing around, with all of that data on the vision board, and with all of that creativity permeating your team, you can start to doubt the vision and whether or not you’re even on the right track anymore.

To avoid falling into this common trap, be sure to reference back to the following elements of a great overarching vision. Your vision needs to be broad and engaging, relevant internally and externally, clear and concise, insightful and based on actionable data, and of course, achievable.

Set individual objectives and tactics

Finally, remember to use your vision as a basis for all other goals, strategies, and their smaller tactics and daily tasks. The vision is your guiding star, and if you try to innovate a product without it, you will inevitably run into design and development roadblocks, confusion within your ranks, and you will invariably miss all kinds of deadlines along the way.

Instead, always reference back to your vision when setting long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals. Build a compressive strategy around the vision, and then start mapping individual tactics to achieve it. Break these tactics down into individual tasks, teams, and smaller deadlines to keep the project moving forward at all times.

Wrapping up

To establish yourself as a viable contender in the competitive market, you need to hit the said market with a powerful product offering. And the only way to create an amazing product line is to start with a product vision. Be sure to use these tips to build a strong product vision that will take your company forward as a whole.

About the author

Emma Miller is a marketer and a writer from Sydney, working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University.

Try One of These Five Leading Innovation Workflows

R&D Performance Management