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Building an Empathy Driven Product Vision

by Shane Hastie on Feb 22, 2016 |

Savita Pahuja and Mirana Kerner, agile coaches at Palo-IT in Singapore, gave a talk at the Agile Tour Singapore conference on the importance of creating an emotional connection when preparing a product vision, and how visualisation techniques can help.

The session was titled “Empathy Driven Product Vision – the art of creating an impactful product vision using emotions and magic of visual effects”

The session started with the presenters providing some background to their approach, drawing on ideas from Human Centred Design, incorporating iterative feedback loops and tapping into the visual creativity which they stated everyone has.  It’s not about being able to draw well, rather using a simple drawing to convey an emotive message.

They listed some key questions which the approach can help product owners and teams work through, and use to inspire the product development:

  • Are your customers ready to buy your product even before you release it? 
  •  Are your customers inspired by your product? 
  • Is your product vision aligned with your customers' needs? 
  • Does your product vision motivate your team?

They pointed out some specific benefits from the approach:

  • Seeing Is believing: visualization has better impact on mind 
  • Easy to understand and getting feedback from the customers 
  •  Helpful for marketing and sales to think of their product strategy 
  • Empower team to be focused for the product goal in their whole development cycle 
  •  Helpful for start-ups to pitch a new product idea or invention to a potential investor 
  • Team understands better, the vision of the new product initiatives by the company

The workshop participants then split into small groups and worked together under the direction of the presenters to prepare a product vision, drawing a picture of the target state which the teams want to achieve by launching a product.  The teams had to appoint a product owner and come up with a vision of success for their product.

The process has three steps

  1. Draw the current state – what is the current experience of customers who are the target audience for the product, expressing the emotional and environmental context.
  2. Draw the target state – what will the experience of the customers be when the product has achieved its desired outcome for the customer
  3. Iterate with the customer a few times, drawing the steps along the way from the current state to the future state, improving the proposed solution with each iteration in order to reach the target state.

An example of a completed vision map is:

An example Empathy Map

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