Communicating the Vision
The course is part of this learning path
This module outlines some of the key areas that stakeholders are involved in during the Scrum process. It starts by defining what a Product Vision is before giving you guidance on how it can be effectively communicated to stakeholders. Then it describes the role of the stakeholder in the Product Roadmap and Sprint Goal.
The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of:
- The product vision and why it is required.
- The key components of a product vision including setting SMART goals.
- Methods to communicate the vision to your stakeholders.
- The key features of a Product Roadmap and how it is created.
- The Sprint Goal and its related outputs.
- The importance of the Product Vision, Product Roadmap and Sprint Goal in supporting effective stakeholder management.
This course is aimed at Scrum Masters who want to improve their individual knowledge of stakeholder engagement practices in service to their Scrum team and their wider organization.
There are no specific prerequisites to study this course.
We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at email@example.com to let us know what you think.
The product vision is a critical element of a development project. A written statement is one thing, but it won’t be effective if it’s not communicated to stakeholders in the most effective way.
How to communicate?
Whilst people prefer to consume information in different ways, communicating a vision is all about engaging with people using powerful words, strong images and perhaps telling stories to help them understand.
As you can see, there are what’s known as ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ ways of communicating which relate to the richness of the communication channel and the effectiveness of the communication. Perhaps unsurprisingly, where a product vision is concerned, the options that are ‘modeled’ are generally more effective than those that are ‘documented’.
But that doesn’t mean that your product vision isn’t documented, it’s just that you need to think about how best to communicate it to the different stakeholder audiences.
There are a few factors that affect the method of communication, including:
How close the audience is to one another – the closer they are, the more options you have;
The time people work and their work patterns – if stakeholders work in different time zones then the communication approach may be affected, especially if it’s important that they all get the message at the same time; and
What’s known as ‘amicability’ which is the willingness of people to hear – or accept – the message.
Here are some hot and cold methods of communication mapped against some of the things that affect them.
What we’re not saying here is that there’s a best method – we’re saying that a product vision should be shared in a face-to-face way if possible but that doesn’t mean it’s not documented and supported by video presentations and other ‘viral’ marketing techniques like email.
Crossing the chasm
As a Product Owner, you need to be an evangelist for the product and the vision and, as part of this, accept that some stakeholders will engage with the product quicker than others.
The ‘Crossing the Chasm’ concept can help to explain this challenge.
It works by putting customers (or stakeholders) into different categories depending on how quickly they adopt new products. Some people love new things and want to use them as early as possible – think about the queues when new Apple products are released. However, others are more pragmatic, and only become interested as the products move into the mainstream and they can see a larger group using them.
This model defines a chasm between the early adopters of the product and the early majority. Visionaries and pragmatists have very different expectations and this is one of the challenges you’ll face in getting everybody on board and understanding the product vision.
Here’s a video that helps to explain the concept of ‘crossing the chasm’. It shows a great example of perseverance at the Sasquatch festival in 2009. You’ll see the presenter – Geoffrey Moore – presents it as a consumer market example but it’s just as relevant to stakeholder communication.
From time to time I’m asked, does the crossing the chasm phenomenon apply to consumer markets and the answer is in some parts ‘yes’ and in some parts it plays out a bit differently. I want to show you a video which shows you the dynamics of how chasms play out in consumer markets in a way that it really does accord with the original theory. So, let me start by starting the video here – this is of a dancing man at the Sasquatch Music Festival in 2009 and had some 550,000 downloads on YouTube and let’s just look at it as an opportunity to test out the chasm theory.
So, here we have our man dancing in the middle of a field. Then you can see he’s trying to get people involved – this is an entrepreneurial action, and he’s demonstrating how one can really get into this music, admittedly through his own personal interpretation but he’s definitely doing it. You’ll notice the people around him, they’re studiously ignoring him; girl walks by him and makes no eye contact, another person – nothing. So, he’s doing it, he’s not stopping – he’s trying to recruit somebody here “you guys coming to play?” – “no”.
That was an entrepreneur being rejected and, does he hang his head in shame? Does he quit? No, look at him; he’s absolutely committed to his entrepreneurial exercise. This is the right thing to do, he believes in himself, he believes in what he’s doing; but nobody is buying his act. But he’s not stopping, he’s got other moves, he’s working it.
We’re almost a third of the way through the video. Think about this if you’re an entrepreneur; you’ve had to stay true to yourself for a third of your entire effort and nothing’s happened.
Now, look here, all of a sudden, we’ve got a second person. This is his first customer – probably a technology enthusiast, if you notice they’re equally gifted at dancing – both of them are more with the head than with the body – but they’re doing it and the second guy is in, he’s like many early customers, he’s at least as enthusiastic as the entrepreneur and he’s even copying some of the moves. And we’ve got another one.
This is still nerds, frankly, where this sort of thing, like Big Bang theory for three people. No actual women involved yet but we’re doing something and this guy’s so excited. Here come two more – so now this is beginning to look like a party.
And now, look. Two women come into this thing and here comes some more. This thing is definitely getting some early market momentum. Notice the people in the foreground aren’t buying anything, they’re just still looking, don’t know what’s going on over here – still pre-chasm. But you can feel that things are starting to break, people are running in, they don’t want to start getting left out – that the pragmatist herd. Pragmatist people want to stay out until it’s safe to go in and then they all rush in.
And now what we’re watching is the actual transition from a chasm to a tornado, in which case more and more people start pouring into the field, it gets harder and harder to be the people sitting down – they’re now realizing they’ve actually missed out here – they’re still being true to their conservative roots.
Look at the crowds of people coming in here and, all of a sudden, we now have the equivalent of a whole new market that never existed. People on the other side are noticing them. This is the entire market fruition and this is what entrepreneurs dream of creating and they go forward in life and, remember, the first third to a half of this phenomenon took place with just one guy dancing in a field, trying to get people to buy in. And now you can’t even see that guy; it’s become a mass movement or, as the video says, ‘it just takes one person to get the party started’.
You’ve got an important role to play in ‘getting your party started’ and the way you communicate the vision is a critical part of this.
The elevator pitch
You might have heard about this as a sales technique – you’ve got as long as you’re in an elevator to explain your product to a stranger.
This works as well for a product vision where you’ve got 10 seconds to explain it to a stakeholder.
Here’s a framework you can use to help you:
‘For’ is a statement on the target customer;
‘Who’ reflects the need for the product;
‘The’ is the name of the product;
‘Is a’ defines the product category;
‘That’ reflects a key benefit;
‘Unlike’ relates to a current product element or a primary competitor; and
‘Our Product’ differentiates it from the competition
Here’s what that might look like for an example product – selling marmalade online!
For retail customers;
Who want to buy our marmalades via the internet;
The Millers marmalade website;
Is an online shop;
That allows customers to purchase all of our products via our website;
Unlike our current telephone process and web page;
The new website will allow customers to shop when convenient for them.
There’s more information about crossing the chasm in the ‘How to Cross the Chasm’ video by Geoffrey Moore. You’ll find the link in the Stakeholder Engagement Resources.
About the Author
Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting and Project/Programme Management working with public, private and third sector organisations.
He has helped organisations to design and create process and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider utilising a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.
As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.
Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Programme and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers and worked at Director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.