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What to Do When You Don't Have a Product Vision

Mission / Vision / Charter
Product
Roadmap
Strategy

25 October, 2021

Nikkho Shandittha
Nikkho Shandittha

SVP of Product at Amartha

Nikkho Shandittha, SVP of Product at Amartha, highlights how creating a product vision can help prioritize and make better decisions for the near future.

Problem

What happens when you or your team does not have a product vision? You start making assumptions and unconscious business decisions about what the actual business problem is. In our case, it was more like being in 1 ship, yet going towards a thousand different directions by our internal and external stakeholders. Very quickly, we realized that we had to create a vision and strategy to win the map. This required a lot of time, energy, and effort, which I was willing to put in, but I also had to convince others that what I was doing was the right thing to do.

Actions taken

I had to talk to more than the key stakeholders and the customers. I made sure that the stakeholders' input was correct. It is important to closely work with both internal and external stakeholders so that they agree on the strategic goals that you may have prepared. Also, there would be less confusion about product priorities later on in the process if they are talked about in the first place.

Subsequently, I had to research in terms of the industry trends, both in Indonesia and similar countries like China and India. Based on the research, I had to develop a compelling product vision at least for the next 3 years. Not to forget about satisfying the stakeholders' objectives, we had to come up with a strong perspective in terms of how we could compete with our competitors.

I had a more global approach to the strategy. Taking into consideration what the other fintech players were doing, I picked some of the techniques and gravity that they used in the market. To be more specific, we looked at the most significant fintech player in China, and interestingly enough, they are an integrator of multiple different financial services.

According to those integrations, they commoditized their partners, and on top of that, they had a rich data set in their arsenal. It allowed them to do credit scoring for a specific customer for loans, and so on. Further techniques involved blacklisting. If a person did not pay their loans on time, they would not be allowed to travel by air, land or sea.

The great thing about that was the outcome: the product feature was approved by our investors. We received an incredible amount of funds, and we could implement our product vision just the way we wanted it. This was a high-level roadmap that helped us organize for the upcoming planning period.

Lessons learned

  • Product visions do not come out of the blue or discuss something in a group with your team members. It needs an intensive research process, analyzing the marketplace and then gathering based on the company's core strengths.
  • Understand the role between business values and capacity building. These can show the strengths and weaknesses of the company itself and the areas for improvement.
  • Never compare your startup to a company that has millions in funding. They might have the capacity to burn cash in marketing or research, but you might have a different approach. Eliminate your habit of comparing; instead, start looking for ways how you can outperform.

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