Start knowing exactly how you want to finish.

Have a vision.  Being able to paint a destination for yourself before you begin work on something is the key to getting there fast, and ensuring that everything is focused on the deliverables that matter.

On this, I came across this from Ian McAllister on the Amazon practice of writing press releases for products that haven’t been spec’d yet:

For new initiatives a product manager typically starts by writing an internal press release announcing the finished product. The target audience for the press release is the new/updated product’s customers, which can be retail customers or internal users of a tool or technology. Internal press releases are centered around the customer problem, how current solutions (internal or external) fail, and how the new product will blow away existing solutions.

If the benefits listed don’t sound very interesting or exciting to customers, then perhaps they’re not (and shouldn’t be built). Instead, the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!).

What a simple method for inspiring a detailed vision for what you need to end up with, before you have spent a dime.  It’s like a brief, but personified.

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