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Your Product Vision A-Team

With an approved proposal in hand, you’re off and running. Now that you’ve successfully delivered your five-slide presentation and secured an official sign-off for the product vision engagement (even if it’s only provisional), you need to pull together your A-Team and set up the project. Per the A-Team, you won’t need any demolitions experts, but five key disciplines will make your team effective: the BEDRC roles (pronounced “bedrock,” see Figure 4.3):

  • Business

  • Engineering

  • Design

  • Research

  • Content


FIGURE 4.3 The BEDRC roles must be represented on your team.

Keep in mind that just because there are five key disciplines, that doesn’t mean your team will be made up of five people. You may be assigned only one or two additional people to join you in your efforts to create a product vision, in which case each person will have to wear multiple hats. This isn’t ideal, but hey, do what you have to do. Perhaps a designer (yourself or a fellow designer) who once doubled as the development resource, could fill the engineering role. On the other hand, you might be able to get a large team with as many as ten people. Whatever the number of people on the team, it’s important that you try to find teammates capable of filling each role.


A successful product vision is rooted in market opportunity and business objectives as well as being aligned with an organizational mission. Your team needs strong representation from the product program’s business side to contribute that half of the strategy work. Your business partner should be an expert in the product space—able to clarify product goals and understand analytics related to: competitors, usage of the current product offerings, and trends that could influence the direction your vision takes.


The engineer on the team understands and influences how you will be able to build your product vision. They should provide a candid assessment of potential technical challenges of building the product. Their role includes anticipating whether your organization’s current technology stack can support it. The engineer also acts as an expert on technology trends and can help with the creation of proofs of concept and prototypes to demonstrate technical feasibility.


Your product vision team will be anchored by you—the strategic designer—who can connect the dots between an organization’s mission, business strategy, and user needs. You are ultimately responsible for translating the product strategy into a compelling and actionable product vision. From a design standpoint, the team will also need a tactical designer who can create the visuals (whether they’re high-level UI designs, illustrations and storyboards, or animations) that effectively communicate the future state of the product. The strategic designer can act in both capacities, if needed.


How do you move beyond assumptions to truly understand what your target audience needs and values? How do you validate the concepts you’ve developed to make sure you’re on the right track? You need someone on your team who understands how to conduct research that will allow you to capture these insights. Be aware that this task is not about usability research. During the strategy phase, you are seeking a deeper understanding through ethnography and contextual inquiry—uncovering pain points and providing insights into how to meet a key user need. Too often, businesses deliver products and features based solely on assumptions; “it’s what we’ve always done; it’s what our competition is doing.” The research can validate or invalidate current assumptions as well as open the team’s eyes to insights that go beyond incremental product improvements to the creation of brand-new markets.


A great vision tells a simple but compelling story about how the future state of a product will benefit your customers as well as achieve business goals. To help tell the story of the experience, you’ll need someone on the team who is an expert wordsmith. Your content strategist can provide direction about the tone to use to communicate with your target audience. Effective marketing language that will eventually sell the concept to users begins by convincing internal decision makers and team members.

Be Selective!

What’s the secret to form an innovative, outcome-driven team? Be patient, but selective—even picky. This work is difficult. Individuals cut out for this type of work thrive in face of challenge. They’ve got grit, and lots of it. The team’s working chemistry should happen organically, and if it doesn’t, be brave enough to cut the cord (respectfully, of course). Hopefully, you’ll find a pack of people whose talents complement yours and, most important, collectively raises the bar. Once you’ve assembled a team that features a strong combination of these skills, it’s time to determine how best to work together in a fluid, collaborative, and inquisitive environment.

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