When pitching innovative product ideas, you only get between five and fifteen minutes of attention. To make those minutes count, you should be able to define your product vision in a simple but comprehensive way. For this, I’ve found this 3x3 framework technique useful. Not only is it a pretty good format for pitching your product, but it also helps you define the vision.

The 3x3 framework

The 3x3 framework

Here’s how it works. Start by gaining the empathy of your audience. Capture them with real observations.  Explain the status quo. Find out what bothers your users. Bring in data if you can. Convey this with a story, like a driver getting lost or a speeding ticket. Set the scene. Describe a navy operator managing hundreds of tracks or a mobile developer frustrated by yet another new phone release in an already fragmented market. Build tension.

Then, create insight. Share the great discovery that is your new product. Describe the unique opportunity your product presents to change the world. Explain how this fits with the company’s strategy. Use an analogy if possible.

Analogies appeal to the way the human brain works. They trigger a familiar path of neurons, so your brain presumes a similar outcome.

“Educated people can always come up with more facts. Use an analogy if you want to win them over.”  - Harry Jekkers

Once you’ve gained empathy and used an analogy to create insight, your audience is primed and ready for your solution. Only then do you deliver it. By now, you may not even need to go into that much detail.  It just works. People are not interested in how their needs are met; they’re interested in knowing that you know which needs they have.

Persuade them with your character and credibility. Aristotle’s ingredients for persuasion or appeals - ethos, pathos and logos - are all means of convincing others to take a particular point of view. Ethos is an appeal to ethics, much like the Bushido virtue of integrity.

Explain the advantages of your product compared to other solutions on the market and tell them why you believe in yours. If you don’t believe that this product is the biggest thing since sliced bread, then why would anyone else?

Frame your product vision in this 3x3 pitch format and you’ll have answers before your critics have questions.

For example:

"There is a problem in the industry today, and that is, that in the growing world of Agile and Digital Transformation, the role of the Product Manager has become more important than ever. We see this every day in our Agile transformations. Product Managers and Product Owners are hard to find and often end up in a risk adverse culture where they become the intermediary between technical teams and business people, rather than the startup entrepreneur they are competing with. 

Over the years I've come up with a sort of standard approach when I'm called in to "fix the team" or "fix the process". Apart from training and scanning the teams, I create a value stream map of their process and have Product Owners and Product Managers come together weekly to update the map and explain bottlenecks and priorities. Often this is the first time they really hear about each others problems and what is slowing them down.

I believe that the real time value stream map or portfolio wall is key to reaping the benefits of an Agile implementation, and there should be safe and fun way to learn what it means and how profound the impact can be. As a martial arts practitioner, I know how important it is to learn in a safe environment, perhaps one where moves are enlarged and explained rather than just applied. Just as it is not possible to learn Judo or Karate from a book, likewise Product Management must be experienced.

For this purpose we've created the Portfolio Wall Game. It allows people to learn about the vital role Product Managers and Owners have in creating a balanced stream of value to our customers, without having to disrupt your operation to figure out what will make it work.

Product Management is truly the core of the Agile and Digital Transformation, and it makes no sense to lead your organisation through a cultural change if the result is confusion and misalignment. To make Agile thrive, empower your Product people."


Want to learn more about using martial arts in product management? Go order the book from bol.com if you are in the Netherlands or Belgium or sign up to get the international edition.

The Product Manager's guide to Continuous Innovation