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In-person vision transmission

I recently transitioned from leading a product team in a region to a more centralised role overseeing products across multiple geographies. As part of that transition, I needed to onboard the new product lead of that region, ensuring they were fully briefed.

While a virtual onboarding could have covered the basic documents and data points, I knew an in-person handoff was crucial. Slide decks can lay out objectives, milestones, and KPIs all day long, but it would definitely lack that oomph factor of an in-person transmission. This was one of the rituals which warrant an in-person interaction even while almost 90% of our interactions are virtual.

Face-to-face allows for a communication that just doesn't come across the same way over video calls. You pick up on vocal intonations, body language, and can have a true dialogue in the moment. Even the most thorough handoff docs might miss those details.

The purpose of this on-site meeting was to convey the overall product vision to the new product leader. And for that person to evangelize the product vision over time, they need more than just the explicit facts and figures. Performing this type of 'in-person vision transfer' prevents the Big Hairy Audacious Idea from getting lost in translation. You want to convey the vision of the product in a way that truly excites someone at a visceral level - and that's tough to accomplish remotely.

I was originally intrigued by the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Dharma transmission, a ceremonial ritual where the teacher formally empowers a student to uphold spiritual teachings. Once the transmission is complete, the student is empowered to conduct the teachings independently. In a similar vein, when anointing a product evangelist, the goal is to light that flame so that they could be the biggest cheerleader for that product.

The analogy is highly relevant for our purposes here. Similar to this meditative practise of transmission, you're transmitting the essential teachings and learnings of the product and the company. The Vision, Mission, Strategy, Goals, Roadmap. In that order. It's important to get these base fundamentals aligned, as one builds on top of the other, like a pyramid shown below.

Image Courtesy: lennysnewsletter.com

Having said that, all these explicit product and delivery details could definitely be transmitted virtually or asynchronously. This could be easily explained in a one pager, or a presentation, but it's so easy to get it wrong too. You want the new incumbent to be like Hestia, from Greek mythology. The keeper of the flame who ensures that the fire is always burning.

Transmission of the vision virtually, is like drinking soup with a fork. You're missing out on all the subtler aspects of the vision while doing so.

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