The product vision is what drives and inspires the company and sustains the company through the ups and downs. This may sound straightforward, but it’s tricky. That’s because there are two very different types of product leaders needed for two very different situations:
- Where there is a CEO or a founder who is the clear product visionary
- Where there is no clear product visionary—usually in situations where the founder has moved on
There are two very bad situations you may encounter related to product vision and strategy.
The first is when you have a CEO who is very strong at product and vision, but she wants to hire a VP product (or, more often, the board pushes her to hire a VP product), and she thinks she should be hiring someone in her own image—or at least visionary like her. The result is typically an immediate clash and a short tenure for the VP product. If this position looks like a revolving door, it’s very possible that’s what’s going on.
The second bad situation is when the CEO is not strong at vision, but she also hires someone in her own image. This doesn’t result in the clash (they often get along great), but it does leave a serious void in terms of vision, and this causes frustration among the product teams, poor morale across the company, and usually a lack of innovation.
The key here is that the VP product needs to complement the CEO. If you have a strong, visionary CEO, there may be some very strong VP product candidates that won’t want the position because they know that, in this company, their job is primarily to execute the vision of the CEO.
— INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love (Silicon Valley Product Group) by Marty Cagan