The Importance of Product Vision & Roadmaps: Insights from Substack Pro

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Aug 30, 2023

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The Importance of Product Vision & Roadmaps: Insights from Substack Pro

In the world of product development, having a clear vision and roadmap is crucial for success. It not only guides the team towards their goals but also helps stakeholders understand the potential of the product. In this article, we will explore the importance of product vision and roadmaps, as well as insights from Substack Pro, a program that revolutionized the way writers get paid.

A product vision is like a compass that directs the team towards their desired future. It establishes the initial beachhead for the product and outlines how the company can lead from there and expand even further. The key here is that the product vision doesn't have to be perfect or set in stone. It's more of a hypothesis, a rough plan that allows for flexibility and adaptation along the way.

The GLEe model, which stands for Get Big on, Lead, and Expand into, is a helpful framework to articulate the product vision. It provides a step-by-step approach that helps the team navigate from their current position to where they aspire to be. While the exact timing of each step may be uncertain, having a shared language and understanding within the organization can keep everyone aligned and focused.

One of the challenges of product vision is aligning different functions within a company. Each department may have its own priorities and perspectives, making it difficult to agree on the level of investment for each stage. Overcommunication becomes crucial in such situations. Regular discussions and updates ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same end goal.

Substack Pro, a program introduced by the writers' platform Substack, offers valuable insights into the importance of aligning success with the success of contributors. In an industry where the business model for journalism has been disrupted, Substack took a different approach. They created a structure that absorbed more risk on the writer's behalf, guaranteeing payment for a year of work regardless of the publication's performance.

This program, known as Substack Pro, not only provided financial security for writers but also demonstrated the platform's commitment to their success. By making their own success dependent on writers' success, Substack built trust and reliability in their model. They became partners rather than just a platform, sharing the risk and reward.

Under Substack Pro, writers agree to let Substack keep 85% of the subscription revenue in the first year. This allows Substack to take on most of the risk while providing writers with a guaranteed income. After the first year, the deal flips, and writers keep 90% of the subscription revenue. This arrangement encourages long-term commitment and ensures that writers become invested in the Substack ecosystem.

It's important to note that Substack's role is not to commission or edit stories. They don't hire or manage writers. The writers are the owners, and they write for their own publications. Substack's only requirement is a commitment to a minimum publishing frequency to ensure dedication and effort.

When selecting writers for Substack Pro, the platform looks at audience size, engagement on social media, and the respect the writer commands among readers and peers. They also consider the market opportunity and assess how well the subject is covered elsewhere. Substack aims to host a diverse range of voices, recognizing the importance of a diversity of thought in healthy discourse.

In conclusion, having a clear product vision and roadmap is essential for any successful product development journey. It aligns the team, guides decision-making, and helps stakeholders understand the potential of the product. Substack Pro offers valuable insights into aligning success with contributors' success, creating a partnership that benefits both parties. To apply these insights to your own product development process, consider the following actionable advice:

  • 1. Develop a clear and flexible product vision using frameworks like the GLEe model. Share this vision with all functions within your company to ensure alignment and agreement on investment levels at each stage.
  • 2. Overcommunicate to keep everyone on the same page. Regular discussions and updates help address any conflicts or misunderstandings, fostering a shared understanding of the product's progression.
  • 3. Consider aligning success with the success of your contributors or partners. By sharing the risk and reward, you build trust and commitment, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

By incorporating these actionable advice into your product development process, you can enhance collaboration, alignment, and ultimately increase the chances of success.

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