Traditional Roadmaps Get Agile

No matter what process your teams are using, you still need a roadmap.  It’s how you connect your strategy with execution.  It guides the investment in people, tools, even acquisitions that need to be made to build the runway for your teams.

Here are four ways to transform your roadmap from a hindrance to a help.

#1 Use it for communication, not just status.
A roadmap is not just for communicating status to management.  A roadmap is great for sharing the long-term vision with your teams.  It helps them see how the problems they are solving and the research they are doing contribute to that vision.

#2 Focus on intent, not solution.
Just like user stories, your roadmap should focus on intent, not solutions.  Avoid specifying solutions when you have the least information.  Don’t assume you know what will work. Exploration is necessary.  Once you point the team where you want to go, they can explore the problem space to figure out the best way to get there.

#3 Products, not projects.
When your roadmap is too explicit describing the solution, it’s a symptom of a project mindset vs a product mindset. Project management is about getting to the finish line; product management is about achieving an outcome.  Focusing on outcomes is more likely to get you the business result that you need.

#4 Account for capacity.
A traditional roadmap is often a wishlist that doesn’t account for the capacity of the teams to execute on it.  There are many approaches you can take to resolve this problem. For example, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) timebox the most important initiatives to a quarter.  Another approach is a portfolio kanban which allows you to measure and optimize your flow.

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Lab Zero is a San Francisco-based product team helping startups and Fortune 100 companies build flexible, modern, and secure solutions.