Perfecting product roadmaps with Janna Bastow "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs February 02 2022 False AMA, Prioritised Members' Content, Product Roadmap, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 668 Product Management 2.672

Perfecting product roadmaps with Janna Bastow

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In this Ask Me Anything (AMA) session for members, ProdPad CEO, and Mind the Product co-founder, Janna Bastow, joins Emily Tate, to answer all of your questions on perfecting product roadmaps.

Watch the video in full or read on for the summary:

In brief

  • A roadmap is an alignment and communication tool and it’s ok to keep it simple to start with as long as you start with something
  • Focus on the solution to a perfect product roadmap. This means focusing on the opportunity first
  • Use OKRs alongside roadmaps to work collaboratively with the wider organisation. Although a roadmap doesn’t provide a timeframe, you can use OKRs to showcase your progress over a period of time.

Keep it simple to start

Janna says that not all roadmaps need to be built to perfection—it’s okay to create an imperfect roadmap at the start. You can use your first rough roadmap to just sketch out your ideas and problems. “It might start off being junk, but it can create a significant impact over time,” Janna says.

When keeping things simple, the worst-case scenario is that your first roadmap will end up being a waste of time. However later down the line, it could be used to validate that your initial strategy was correct.

Fundamentally, the roadmap is an alignment and communication tool. Keeping things simple at the start can be an effective tool during your product development. You should always aim to start with something, Janna believes. “Keep it simple and think about your product strategy to get the ball rolling.

Focus on the solution to perfect product roadmaps

The key to perfecting product roadmaps is to focus on the opportunity first. Think about what your problems are and where opportunities arise from those problems. After you have thought up multiple solutions, Janna explains that it’s important to not just focus on one. You should have three to five solutions aligned to every opportunity. The goal is to test out and experiment with the best ways to tackle them.

Use OKRs to work collaboratively with executive teams

When asked how to communicate collaboratively with executives, Janna explains how OKRs can be used as a time concept to provide board members with the process that they need. Executive-level members like to know that progress is being made within a rigid time frame. Although using a product roadmap can’t provide this, you can showcase a process and layout that represents what experiments and solutions you have over a period of time.

Read more about OKRs

There’s a culture shift that needs to happen to ensure that both teams work together in a better process, Janna explains. The executives can provide the right OKRs quarter by quarter to align on. Doing this will enable the product managers to work towards those targets while remaining autonomous and utilising their flexible roadmaps.

If you’re working in product and you’re not at the executive level, it can feel like you’re not creating change due to targets and deadlines set from levels above. It’s important to discover why certain processes have to take place, Janna explains. Once you start to understand what the incentives of the organisation are, you can then have more transparency on why certain aspects that you want to change are misaligned.

Understand how the organisation runs, who is incentivized by what, and why certain processes are happening in the first place before you begin to invoke change within the organisation. Once you have the answers to all these questions, it can give you the foundation to speak up and have more of an impact on how the organisation works.

Some of the content referenced above is exclusive to Mind the Product members. Not yet in the club? Learn about Prioritised and MTP Leader membership today.

What to read next

Understanding how to perfect product roadmaps is an imperative skill for product managers.  Discover more insights on how to excel in your roadmapping craft.

In this Ask Me Anything (AMA) session for members, ProdPad CEO, and Mind the Product co-founder, Janna Bastow, joins Emily Tate, to answer all of your questions on perfecting product roadmaps. Watch the video in full or read on for the summary:

In brief

  • A roadmap is an alignment and communication tool and it’s ok to keep it simple to start with as long as you start with something
  • Focus on the solution to a perfect product roadmap. This means focusing on the opportunity first
  • Use OKRs alongside roadmaps to work collaboratively with the wider organisation. Although a roadmap doesn’t provide a timeframe, you can use OKRs to showcase your progress over a period of time.

Keep it simple to start

Janna says that not all roadmaps need to be built to perfection—it’s okay to create an imperfect roadmap at the start. You can use your first rough roadmap to just sketch out your ideas and problems. “It might start off being junk, but it can create a significant impact over time,” Janna says. When keeping things simple, the worst-case scenario is that your first roadmap will end up being a waste of time. However later down the line, it could be used to validate that your initial strategy was correct. Fundamentally, the roadmap is an alignment and communication tool. Keeping things simple at the start can be an effective tool during your product development. You should always aim to start with something, Janna believes. “Keep it simple and think about your product strategy to get the ball rolling.

Focus on the solution to perfect product roadmaps

The key to perfecting product roadmaps is to focus on the opportunity first. Think about what your problems are and where opportunities arise from those problems. After you have thought up multiple solutions, Janna explains that it’s important to not just focus on one. You should have three to five solutions aligned to every opportunity. The goal is to test out and experiment with the best ways to tackle them.

Use OKRs to work collaboratively with executive teams

When asked how to communicate collaboratively with executives, Janna explains how OKRs can be used as a time concept to provide board members with the process that they need. Executive-level members like to know that progress is being made within a rigid time frame. Although using a product roadmap can’t provide this, you can showcase a process and layout that represents what experiments and solutions you have over a period of time.

Read more about OKRs

There’s a culture shift that needs to happen to ensure that both teams work together in a better process, Janna explains. The executives can provide the right OKRs quarter by quarter to align on. Doing this will enable the product managers to work towards those targets while remaining autonomous and utilising their flexible roadmaps. If you’re working in product and you’re not at the executive level, it can feel like you’re not creating change due to targets and deadlines set from levels above. It's important to discover why certain processes have to take place, Janna explains. Once you start to understand what the incentives of the organisation are, you can then have more transparency on why certain aspects that you want to change are misaligned. Understand how the organisation runs, who is incentivized by what, and why certain processes are happening in the first place before you begin to invoke change within the organisation. Once you have the answers to all these questions, it can give you the foundation to speak up and have more of an impact on how the organisation works. Some of the content referenced above is exclusive to Mind the Product members. Not yet in the club? Learn about Prioritised and MTP Leader membership today.

What to read next

Understanding how to perfect product roadmaps is an imperative skill for product managers.  Discover more insights on how to excel in your roadmapping craft.

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