The Most Important Statement Any Owner Can Make

TL:DR Adopting an Experience Strategy mindset and taking the time to create a vision statement for your product or service can create top and bottom line growth for your organization.

Building in the process of defining a user- or customer-centered experience vision is one of the most important cultural shifts in business strategy that any organization can undertake. It can break down department barriers, create more unified organizations, and get everyone on the same page with a clear strategy and vision that can be shared at every level.
Unfortunately, as we all know, cultural change isn’t easy. Personalities and agendas can clash, new approaches to problem solving can expose fears and be met with resistance. However, as an owner, you have the power to implement that change. You have the power to evolve your organization’s approach to your business and your business’s relationship with your audience. and that is why…

Experience Strategy Vision needs to be a top-down practice.

That means that you, as an owner (Project Managers & Directors, but more importantly VP’s, Executive-level leadership, Owners, and Founders), must take an active role in adopting User Experience (UX) or Customer Experience (CX) practices as a method of operation for it to be successful.
Even though the core concepts have existed for decades, the practices behind terms like UX Strategy, User (Human) Centered Design, Design Thinking, Creative Intelligence, and Integrative Thinking have just begun to have more wide-spread, visible impact.
Design Value Index

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The strategies, processes, and practices that achieve business goals by focusing on solving audience problems are proven top- and bottom-line difference makers. Companies that have embraced the strategic use of design as a business tool outperforming the S&P by 228% over the last 10 years. The good news is that the strategies of Apple, Ford, IBM, Intuit, SAP, and Target can be deployed at any scale. The other good news is that we as leaders have a unique opportunity to affect change and inspire innovation within our organizations, however…

Innovation Requires Vision

The primary function of a Experience Vision Statement is twofold: 1) To establish a unified understanding of the problems that an organization solves for its audience, and 2) to define the goals that the organization is looking to achieve with the project.

UX Strategy Diagram

At it’s simplest, an experience vision is an idea of what the experience you are creating will be for the user and for your organization. Like any good idea, it can evolve, grow, or change (if needed) as it matures, but the most important thing is that there is a clear vision to guide the direction of the company, project, or product so the teams involved have a point of reference on which to focus.

An experience vision is the combination of solving problems, defining goals, and establishing ways of measuring what success looks like.

An experience vision is the combination of solving problems, defining goals, and establishing ways of measuring what success looks like.

Start with the Why – Global Vision & Project Vision

Experience visions can and should be employed at every level in an organization. From a core vision that establishes the principles that guide the collective efforts of a company, to a project vision that supports the core company vision through user-centered product or service development, each vision should work together to create a collaborative network of support for the product, service, and most importantly the audience. Anything from adding a functional feature to an existing project, to redesigning an entire SaaS experience can, and should, have a clear audience-based “why” guiding the effort from early in the planning stages. Because, when you solve problems for your audience, you create stronger business results for your organization.

The difference is Creative told us WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it.

The difference is Creative told us WHAT their product was and Apple told us WHY we needed it.

Research + Observation = Better Understanding

Absent a visionary who is has innate insight into product/market fit (and/or is at the right place at the right time…I’m thinking of a Richard Branson or Steve Jobs), one of the best way for the rest of us to tap into the inspiration to innovate is through observation. Looking at both qualitative and quantitative behavior can provide insight to both improving an existing product, or creating an entirely new market disruption.
Field and behavioral studies (including the gamut of user centered design research…Usability Testing, Hueristic Evaluation, Surveys, etc) provide insight into what the current experience is like… we can see what is working and where the pain points/bottlenecks are in people’s experience. From these results, we can construct a foundational understanding of user needs and desires that will serve as a base for our vision. Having the knowledge of where things stand is the only way gain the insights required to innovate better experiences.
Airbnb began it’s climb to a current $30B valuation out of a need to pay rent, 3 blow up mattresses, and an awareness of hotel room scarcity due to a conference coming to town.
Here are 2 Important questions to take the time to think about.
What does our product or service enable our customers to achieve? 
What do I want the outcome of this project/effort/sprint to be?

Experience ≥ Technology

One of the easiest pitfalls to stumble into when constructing your UX Strategy Vision is putting technology ahead of experience. The technology is the vehicle, but the experience is the feeling the user gets behind the wheel.
Take Nike’s Research Lab for example. Since it was established in 1980, the lab’s sole (…sorry, couldn’t resist…hehehe) focus has been to provide knowledge and insight based on researching and collecting data on athlete’s needs to help designers create footwear, apparel and equipment. The needs of the athlete have been driving technological innovation for the company ever since.
By adopting a practice of reaching your business goals by creating product that enable users to achieve their’s, you create solutions that go beyond technical touch points and base innovations on how actual people are experiencing your product or service.

Share the Vision!

A vision can only be successful if other people on the team know about it. Not just with the teams directly involved in the project, but every team, and at every level. Marketing, Customer Service, IT, Manufacturing, even Legal can be included because focusing on the user experience takes the product beyond an interface, product, or service. The whole experience, across touch points, becomes the product, with each department having the potential to play an integral role in that product’s success.
Sharing the vision creates awareness, awareness leads to inclusion and adoption, ultimately empowering ownership of the vision. When a vision is owned by the entire team, not just the originators, it has the power to achieve great things.