Agile Tools for Clarifying a Vision Statement–Product Vision Box

In the Agile Project Management Processes Grid presented by John Stenbeck in his book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, the process that comes right after Process 1.1 Stakeholders Identification is Process 1.2 Vision Statement.

For reference here the four agile tools which are used in the process of defining and clarifying the vision for a releasable product:

  1. Vision Statement (Process 1.2)–sometimes called an elevator statement, an uncomplicated way to define the product vision in a short statement
  2. Product vision box–a tangible expression of a solution that includes whatever context is necessary to convey what the product will be
  3. Product data sheet or PDS (Process 1.3)–one-page summary of key project objectives, capabilities, and information that convey how a project fulfills the product vision
  4. Flexibility matrix–a tool that communicates how to handle trade-offs with a grid showing the relative importance of constraints such as scope, schedule, cost, and quality by defining them as fixed, firm, or flexible (only one constraint may be fixed)

The last post covered the Vision Statement, which also happens to be process 1.2 of the Agile PM Processes Grid.   This post will cover the second agile tool listed above, the product vision box.

Product Vision Box

The product vision box is a tangible expression of a solution to that includes graphic images as well as narrative content to express the customer’s product vision.    This is meant to be presented to the customer so technical jargon is to avoided as much as possible.

One way to create the product vision box is to start with the vision statement, sometimes called the elevator statement, as discussed in the last post.    Let’s review the elements of the vision statement, as set forth by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.

Vision Statement

For:  [name a customer type]

Who Want:  [state a specific need or desire]

The:  [name your product]

Is a:  [name the product category]

That:  [name a compelling reason to buy or use the product or service]

Unlike:  [name the leading competitive products]

Our Product:  [specify the differentiating features or functions]

Here’s an example I created with an app that I use every day to study foreign languages called Duolingo.

For all those who want to learn a foreign language, the Duolingo app is an free app that can take you from having no knowledge of a foreign language to fluency by using it just 10 minutes a day, unlike other foreign language programs like Rosetta Stone that can cost up to hundreds of dollars and require a much larger time commitment.  Our product teaches the user the basic and intermediate levels of any one of a dozen or more European languages.

Vision Statement –> Product Vision Box

Here’s a sample of a “Product Vision Box” for the Duolingo app that I created using the vision statement.




For any one who wants to learn a foreign language

App can be downloaded to your iPhone or Android Device

Be fluent in months if you practice just 10 minutes a day

App is free to use

Learn any one of a dozen foreign languages, with more being added


As you can see, there is the product title, followed by a slogan which gives the basic function of the product.   Then you can include a graphic element which shows either how the product will work, or in this case, the logo that plans to be connected with the product, the owl named Duo.

Then the elements of the vision statement can be stripped out and given underneath.    I have followed the list with a catchy slogan “Go From Language Zero to Language Hero” which is aimed at the potential end user, who may have tried to learn a foreign language in the past and had little success.    This is obviously just an example, but it shows the approach being used.

Just remember that there are four communication preferences, those that focus on

  • Ideas (relates to what people think)
  • Process (relates to what steps people will take)
  • People (relates to what people feel)
  • Action (relates to what goal people aim for)

One of the perpetual communication problems project managers have is that they are usually have a primary strength in the process communication preference, but may not be able to communicate effectively in the people communication preference, which requires you to tell stories so that people can not just see the steps you are going to take to get to the solution (which is what the process communication preference emphasizes), but what the solution will feel like, look like.    The last statement in the product vision box was “Go from Language Zero to Language Hero.”   This is an emotional appeal to a user, not a practical one.    If you just want to learn a foreign language, then you should try this product.   But if you have been frustrated in the past trying to learn a foreign language, then you should REALLY try this product.    See the difference?    If you have graphic designers or someone with a visual bent, then that is the person you should be using to help create your product vision box.

For those who want to use an approach that is more along the lines of those with a preference for process-focused communication, then you should try the next agile tool, the Project Data Sheet.   That is the subject of the next post.


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