The following is adapted from Build What Matters.
One of my most important responsibilities at GoCanvas was being the author and steward of the product vision and strategy. After I had worked to get executive alignment, it was time to present the package to the whole company. The team had done a great deal of customer discovery, quantitative research, stakeholder interviews, and more, but there was still a risk that employees who were unaware of those efforts might think we were operating out of an ivory tower. Rather than bore them with a long preamble about our process, I decided to let the customers simply speak for themselves.
One of our research activities was recording interviews with customers, including both those that we won and those that we lost. I went through all of those interviews and cut audio highlights for each. Then I spliced them together into “chapters,” so we could hear our customers and non-customers tell us what they were looking for at each stage of their journey, points at which they felt engaged, and areas where we fell flat. I edited intentionally but honestly so that even quotes that countered my point of view were included.
Instead of presenting slides, I just played five-minute audio segments where multiple customers explained their key outcomes, what they wanted in an ideal customer journey, and gaps in the GoCanvas product experience—all in their own words. All I did was take notes on a whiteboard and summarize after each chapter.
At the end, I took a photo of the whiteboard and then shared a pre-written document that mirrored the whiteboard notes. This became part one of a three-part series of presentations I gave at GoCanvas to generate enthusiasm for our product vision and strategy, and it built enormous trust in product management from all corners of the company.
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