The Product Vision Board

By Roman Pichler, 10th May 2011
Photo courtesy of Pexels

The vision plays an important role in bringing a new product to life: It acts as the overarching goal guiding everyone involved in the development effort. Equally important is the product strategy, the path chosen to attain the vision. Without a shared vision and an effective strategy, people are likely to pull in different directions, and the chances of creating a successful product are slim. While vision and strategy are key, describing them can be challenging. This post introduces the Product Vision Board, a tool that helps you capture the vision and product strategy.

A Sample Vision Board

Towards the end of 2012, I was exploring the idea of creating a software-based version of my Product Canvas tool that integrates seamlessly with JIRA and GreenHopper. To get started, I created the Vision Board shown below.

A Sample Product Vision Board

The Product Vision Board captures my assumptions about the users and the customers of the new tool, the needs the product should address, the key product features, and the value the product should create for my own business, Pichler Consulting. (I explain the sections of the board in more detail below.)

As you may have noticed, I have kept the information on the board concise. I did not, for instance, write personas and user stories, or create a design sketch. There are two reasons for this: First, I did not know enough about the users and customers at the outset to write personas and to describe the product in more detail. Second, I find that the product details are best captured in the product backlog.

The board was very valuable: It helped me think through my idea, and it allowed me to share my thoughts with my team, and with our development partner. Additionally, the vision board helped me investigate the greatest risks by testing my assumptions, as I explain below. I now use the Vision Board for any new idea be it writing a new book, creating a new brochure, or updating a training course, and I help my clients apply the board.

The Vision Board Explained

The Vision Board is the simplest thing that could possibly work to capture the vision and the product strategy. It uses five sections as shown in the following diagram and explained below. You can download the template from the tools section of my website or by simply clicking on the picture below.

Product Vision Board Template

Vision states your overarching goal, the ultimate reason for creating the product, the positive change you want to bring about. Make your vision big and inspiring. Use a brief statement or slogan. For more information, please refer to my article 8 Tips for Creating A Compelling Product Vision.

Target Group describes the market or market segment you want to address. You should state who the product is likely to benefit, who its users and its customers are. Choose a homogenous, clear-cut target group. Build a (new) product for the few, not the many (as Steve Blank advises).

Needs describes the product’s value proposition: the main problem the product addresses or the primary benefit it offers. The section should make it clear why people will want to use or pay for your product. Describe what success looks like for the users and customers. If you identify several needs, prioritise them.

Product summarises the three to five features of your product that make it stand out and that are critical for its success. These are likely to correlate to its unique selling proposition, and they should address the needs identified. Don’t make the mistake of listing lots of features. Stick to a maximum of five. Capture the product details at a later stage in your Product Canvas or product backlog.

The section Business Goals explains why it’s worthwhile for your company to invest in the product. It states the desired business benefits, for instance, increase revenue, enter a new market, reduce cost, develop the brand, or acquire valuable knowledge. The latter can be just as valuable as the former: When Toyota shipped the Prius in 1997, for instance, the car was not earning any money. But it immediately developed its brand (“green car company”), and had gained an advantage in hybrid technology. Prioritise the business goals to create focus and state targets. Otherwise, it’s hard to measure the product performance and apply the right key performance indicators (KPIs).

There are, of course, other tools available that help you capture your ideas including Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas and Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas. I may well be biased, but I like the simplicity of the Product Vision Board: I find it always beneficial to consider the target group, needs, key features and business goals when exploring an idea. Filling in all the boxes on the Lean and the Business Model Canvas is often but not always helpful. But you can happily use the Product Vision Board as a stepping stone towards creating the Lean or Business Model Canvas.

Research and Validation with the Product Vision Board

The Product Vision Board is not only a thinking and communications tool, it also allows you to test your assumptions, and capture the newly gained insights. To get started, I find it helpful to identify the greatest risk or biggest uncertainty on the board. This creates focus, and it enforces a fail-fast: figuring out quickly what works and what doesn’t, which assumptions hold true, and which don’t.

When I was working on my digital canvas idea, for instance, the greatest risk was initially misunderstanding the user needs, and potentially building a product that does not provide much value. I consequently decided to test my user needs assumptions before exploring further what features the tool should provide, or how the product should be implemented. I hence started carrying out a series of problem interviews, structured conversation with a prospect to understand the individual’s problems and goals without referring to the solution, and engaged in a few direct observation sessions.

These measures helped me understand the target group better, and assess how much value a product canvas app with JIRA integration would provide. It also made me update and change the board to reflect my latest thinking, as the following picture shows:

Risk-driven Product Strategy Validation

I suggest you follow a similar approach when you work with the vision board: Identify your biggest risk, and attack this risk first. Don’t be afraid to fail: Early failure saves you time and money.

Product Vision Board and Business Model

I find that the strength of the Product Vision Board is its simplicity: It captures the core ideas necessary to create a new product — the customers, the problem, the solution, and the desired business benefits. But it does not detail how the business goals are achieved and it does not capture the business model including the competitors, the partners, the channels, the revenue sources, and the cost factors. Describing and testing your business model ideas is particularly important when you develop a brand-new product, when you want to make bigger changes to an existing product, for instance, to take it to a new market (segment).

To capture your business model ideas you can either complement the Product Vision Board with the Business Model Canvas or use its extended version, the Product Vision Extended, which is shown below, inspired by the former, and is available for download at

Product Vision Board Extended


Physical or Electronic?

As its name suggests, the Product Vision Board is intended to be an analogue artefact that is kept on the office wall. A physical Board makes the vision and strategy visible and easily accessible. I find physical boards more fun and effective particularly when the strategy has not been validated yet: You can stand in front of it, review and discuss its contents, and identify risks and assumptions together as a team – assuming that you are collocated.

You can download the Product Vision Board template from my website and print it out on a large sheet of paper; or create your own board on the office wall or on a whiteboard using masking tape. Paper cards and adhesive notes are great to capture the board contents. This makes it easy to change the information and to support teamwork: Everybody can write a note or paper card to capture an idea and add it to the board.

Once the Vision Board has been validated and is stable, you can simply take a picture and post it on your wiki, or recreate it in an electronic tool.

Article Name
The Product Vision Board
This post introduces the Product Vision Boar, a simple, yet powerful tool to capture the vision and product strategy.
Pichler Consulting Limited

Learn More

You can learn more about working the Product Vision Board with the following:


28 comments on “The Product Vision Board

  1. Stefan

    Thank you, Roman, for the fast reponse! Indeed, that does help!
    To give a short intro into why I was asking is that while planing the vision-workshop I was thinking of starting the workshop with a little story that describes a typical user flow of the product to be. I thought that might inspire and sets the tone right. I just had the issue of selecting the story of the customer or the user. As bottoms-up (my team) would say user-centric (end user using the application in their daily life) but tops-down (my management) would argue the customer (purchaser of the platform offering the service later on to the customer himself). As I think I will define the primary persona as the customer and the user as the secondary one I will focus on the story of the customer. Do you think that will make sense i should omit the story to not bias the workshop-creativity?

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Stefan, Whose needs you put first–the user’s or customer’s–is a decision you will have to make. Having said that, I typically favour the users: It is hard to achieve product success if the product does not do a great job for the people who employ it. Think about it that way: If a purchase departments likes buying the product but the users don’t like using it, will the company buy more licenses or subscriptions? Starting the workshop with a scenario sounds like a nice idea to ensure that everybody has the same understanding how the product could be used. Be careful, though, not to move into solution validation and UX design too quickly. First, capture your ideas about needs, target group, stand-out features, and business goals. Then identify risks or leap-of-faith assumption and address them. You may well find that as a consequence, your user interaction ideas and the product features change. Good luck!

  2. Stefan

    Hi Roman,

    I’ve read your book and I’m also a big fan of your work here on this blog…

    I’m currently trying to create a vision + strategie within my new position and were thinking if you have a defined order in mind when looking at the product vision board of yours. I was thinking of doing one of the 5 topics at a time starting from the vision as this made the most sense to me. Tho, now I’m struggeling as I’m not sure if the vision should guide the targeted user or the other way around. I’m actually thinking that depending on whom I will address the vision will be different (e.g. in my case the user vs the buyer). I think my primary persona will be the buyer, and the user of the application the secondary persona. Those differences in the targeted user will heavly influence how I structure the vision finding process (or at least as I had it in mind as of now ).

    What are your thoughts on this? Would you in a vision workshop start with the targeted user and from there hop to the vision or would you outline (e.g. agenda) such a workshop differently?

    Cheers & keep up the interesting work,

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Stefan,

      Thank you for your feedback and sharing your questions. The vision is best used to guide the stakeholders, development team, and yourself in my mind, unless you develop a bespoke product for a specific client.

      It’s not uncommon that user and buyer/customer are not the same person and have different needs. As you’ve suggested, you should decide whose needs are more important, at least to successfully launch your initial product (MVP).

      Does this help?

  3. Francisco

    Hi Roman!

    I thought I had clear enough the difference between vision and business goals until I read the Toyota Prius example.

    I’d say that being a “green company” is the vision rather than a business goal.

    Anyways, could you help me to incorporate correctly both concepts?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Francisco,

      Thanks for sharing your question. I agree that becoming a green, environment-friendly company can make a good company vision. I used the Prius example to point out that business goals can be of non-financial nature as in the case of brand development. In fact, I would argue that if your company vision was to become an environment-friendly business, then you should expect to see related business goals in your product strategies, as I explain in my article “Leading Through Shared Goals“.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Josef Scherer

    Hi Roman,
    I couldn’ t find the download for the extended vision board. It seems the links are always to the simple version. Did I miss something?
    Cheers Josef

    • Roman Pichler

      Thanks for your comment Josef. You can download the extended Product Vision Board by clicking on the arrows next to the download button. After clicking an arrow you will see the Product Vision Board change. Hope this helps. If you continue to have trouble, please contact me and I’ll send you a copy of the extended board.

  5. Dina

    HI Roman. I was wondering if this tool can be used for an IT Company who is looking to introduce a number of new product lines to it’s business. They need to really nut out the product strategy and roadmap but i wasn’t sure if you would use one vision board per product, or group the products?

    • Roman Pichler

      Excellent question Diana, thanks for sharing! If the target group and value propositions are identical or very similar, and if the users tend to use more than one product of the product line or portfolio, as in the case of Microsoft Office, for example, then I recommend creating one overall portfolio strategy and derive individual roadmaps for the products from it. You can happily use the Product Vision Board for capturing the portfolio strategy if you wish. Does this help?

  6. Nico

    Hi Roman,

    I am finding the product vision board a difficult process. Not so much about the template, but more about gathering and consolidating the vision.

    I deal with a back-end legacy system that we are now developing ourselves, setup in multiple agnostics scrum teams (fortnightly sprints, monthly release with a month of hardening). The product globally provides forecasting, ordering and replenishment, is subject to a nightly intensive batch with stringent SLAs, but also has an on-line user community of around 100 people across various business units (logistics, buying, supply chain, stores, franchises, …)

    As such, we do not have competitors, nor are part of typical revenue streams.

    I am finding the GO Roadmap useful.

    Any advice on how to use the vision board in our circumstances would be helpful.


    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Nico,

      Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your question. As you have a product that serves different user groups like logistics and buying, I recommend that you state these groups on the Product Vision Board together with the main problem that the product solves for each group or the primary benefit it offers. This will result in a grid structure. Then complete the board and state its three to five key features or capabilities, and its business benefits, such as, generate revenue by helping sell physical products or reduce cost. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself if you have one cohesive product or if the user needs are so different that your product is likely to be an aggregate product or product bundle. To validate this assumption, research how different users interact with the product. For example, observe users and evaluate any analytics data you have. If the user journeys have little overlap, then you probably have a bundle, which you should consider breaking up the product. This is likely to involve some major architecture refactoring. But it gives you the advantage to evolve the newly created products separately at different speeds thereby better responding to user and business needs.

      Does this help?

      • Nico

        Hi Roman,
        Thanks for the practical approach. I’ll try and come back to you.

  7. Daniel Schjerlund

    Hi Roman.

    Thank you for this post, I’m going to use a bit of a self modified version of the Vision Board in my head assignment in computer science. This helps me a lot by explaining my vision with my project in a simple and brilliant way. Thank you.

    • Roman Pichler

      Thanks for your feedback. I am really pleased that the board works for you. Good luck with your assignment!

  8. Amanda Fong

    Hi Roman! Thank you for this really great post. I’m discovering a year later… but it’s still incredibly relevant.

    To share my experience with you, at Planbox (we make an cloud-base agile project management tool), we work with agile- gotta live what you preach! We have an informal version of the Product Vision Board, and are currently working to formalize it.

    What’s great about the Product Vision Board (or at least our informal version of it) is that it does not only help build the product, but it’s a great reference for presenting the product when you hire new team members. It also greatly benefits the marketing and sales functions, when you need to prepare for a pitch, develop your marketing messages, etc.

    Amanda Fong,
    Community Manager at Planbox

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your feedback and for sharing your experience. Great to hear that working with the product vision board is beneficial for you!

  9. John

    Roman in a book that im reading about customer development it mentions a product vision as one of the very first things to do, it also recommends agile development and it being well suited to the customer development process, and the book also recommends the business model canvas, i can see how this will benefit me in the future, the combination.

    Thanks for this article, a hope to create one similar to your example when im ready to.

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi John, Glad you’ve found the post helpful. Product vision board is maybe a misnomer, as the board captures the product vision and the product strategy. Let me know how using the board works for you.

  10. Andrea Heck

    Hi Roman,

    I have used your Product Vision Board successfully with a smaller internal project group which wanted to transform into a Scrum team.

    After they had learned about Scrum, we needed just a few hours to set the vision, find out that they actually have a few different customer groups, and define the topmost features.

    One of the most interesting discussions was the one about their value contribution and their business model, where they saw they had a rough idea, but would need to investigate more to come up with something supported by numbers. Even as internal team, they realized, if they can present that, it does not only make themselves happy, but also convince the management of their usefulness ,-)

    Thank you very much for providing your Product Vision Board!

    Best Regards

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Andrea, Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences! The match mine: determining the value-added for the organisation can be tough but it’s usually very valuable.

  11. Jonesy

    This is great and I can see how this works for a new product. Does this work for existing products that are being enhanced or developed further though?

    • Roman Pichler

      Hi Finn, Thanks for the feedback. Yes, it also worthwhile creating a vision board for a product update if the update addresses a new market segment, if additional needs are addressed, or if the business model changes.

  12. Lane Halley

    Great post, Roman, thanks! I agree that simple, evolving tools that are visible to the entire team are really useful. I’ve shared this link with a team I know who is struggling with creating a shared vision. They have many of these elements, the just don’t have a discipline about putting them together in a visible place.

    You might want to check out something similar I did for a recent Lean Startup weekend.

    best wishes,

    – Lane Halley

    • Roman Pichler

      Thanks for the feedback, Lane. I enjoyed your lean startup sketch board. Nice idea to integrate a sketch of the ecosystem including buyers and sellers – something that I do as part of the business model discussion on my vision board.

  13. Menno Jongerius

    Great post Roman! We started using SCRUM about half a year ago at our company and as product owner I’ve been busy aligning our stakeholders and visualizing our product strategy. This is a very helpful post. Thanks!

    By the way, if you would like to know how I’ve implemented your product backlog board. Check it out on

  14. Roman Pichler

    Hi Arran, I also recommend to my not-for-profit clients to consider how a new product or the next product version will benefit them. In that sense, the business model question still applies.

  15. Arran Hartgroves

    Hi Roman,

    Poor visioning is a common weakness for Product Owners according to a survey I’m conducting on Linked In (along with involvement in planning).

    Is the business model optional in innovative product development or public sector work when revenues are not key but service?

    Some products have been known to focus on fulfilling needs rather than worrying about revenue streams and have been successful? They seem to have faith that revenues will follow (I’m thinking Google Maps here and such), I might be being a little idealistic!

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