In my first job as a PM, I was asked by our CPO to formulate the product vision for the product that I was responsible for. Being new to the role, I did what I assume many junior PMs would do: I googled. And sure enough, I found more fill-in-the-blank templates for constructing a product vision than there are days in a year.
Sure enough, I filled in the blanks.
But I had no vision for the product, yet now that it was in writing, I believed I could check off the task “Define product vision”. My boss seemed satisfied. All good, then!? Far from it.
Contrast this with my current situation, six years into the role. I now manage a part of a product for which I have a strong sense of direction, a ton of context, and a high level of ownership. But I have yet to fill out a template for our “product vision”.
The learning for me from these two experiences is: Defining a product vision is not something that can be mandated as a to-do. Especially when the person responsible for driving the vision creation “does not feel it” yet. It takes a lot of time of ingraining yourself with the problems of the users, their daily lives, and the role the product plays in that (or the role it could play in the vision you’re chasing).
You need to soak up the context of the product. This takes time. You’ll feel it when you have a vision. It’s the moment when talking about the paths into the future feels effortless and natural to you. Then you won’t need a template.
At least that’s how it’s turned out for me.