Why roadmaps don’t matter (that much) by Stephen Culligan "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs January 01 2022 False Product Roadmap, ProductTank, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 534 Chain,Of,Blocks,Of,Unidirectional,Arrows.,Consistency,And,Focus.,Concept Product Management 2.136

Why roadmaps don’t matter (that much) by Stephen Culligan

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In this ProductTank Buenos Aires talk, Stephen Culligan, Head of Product at Prommt and former Product Manager at Pivotal Labs discusses how we can build better roadmaps by focusing more on the strategy and vision of a product.

His key points include:

  • Traditional roadmaps
  • Building better roadmaps
  • The bigger picture

Watch the video to see his talk in full or read on for an overview of his key points.

Traditional roadmaps

Based on his previous experience in product management at companies, Stephen explains that traditional roadmaps make you assume that you can predict the future and everyone involved is an expert on anticipating what the customer and competitors will do next.

These traditional product roadmaps are aimed at mapping out the future and consequently don’t help you understand why you’re building a product. No one can predict what a customer or competitor is going to do so it could lead to product failure. Stephen says to focus on why you’re building the product and how you’re going to impact customers, instead of focusing on when you plan on shipping your product. “Focus on the way things turn out, over the output of something produced,” Stephen says.

Building better roadmaps

To build better roadmaps, look at the problem, the opportunity, and the hypothesis to validate whether you are reaching the right goals. He explains that better roadmaps have no features or output, just hypotheses that teams are trying to validate or invalidate. Always start small and don’t plan too far ahead, Stephen explains.

As you build, think about short iterations, he says. Always gather new information and release new ideas to figure out whether your hypothesis is working or not. Finally, always keep the persona at the front of what you’re thinking about.

Read about how to write effective user personas for a diverse audience

The bigger picture

To create better product roadmaps, Stephen says that we need to understand the bigger picture. That bigger picture starts with a vision—figure out what are you trying to achieve and why. Stephen believes that product managers often focus on the product roadmap way more than the vision and strategy. Focusing more on the latter is where you’ll find 80% of your impact.

Breaking down The Bigger Picture (Image: Stephen Culligan)

As product managers, he says that we need to pivot our attention to the outcomes that will create a bigger impact on the products we are creating. Stephen encourages all product managers to excel in companies as product managers to be more visionary and strategic in what we’re doing. Roadmaps and backlogs are important to provide timeline, tactics, and details, however, honing in on the strategy and vision of the product is where the real impact is made.

Enjoy more ProductTank content

ProductTanks are informal meetups, created by Mind the Product, to bring local product people together and to enable speakers to share amazing product insights. Today we have ProductTanks in more than 200 cities across the globe and there’s probably one near you.

Learn more about ProductTank – find your local meetup, explore more ProductTank content, see the latest ProductTank news, and discover ways to get involved!

In this ProductTank Buenos Aires talk, Stephen Culligan, Head of Product at Prommt and former Product Manager at Pivotal Labs discusses how we can build better roadmaps by focusing more on the strategy and vision of a product. His key points include:
  • Traditional roadmaps
  • Building better roadmaps
  • The bigger picture
Watch the video to see his talk in full or read on for an overview of his key points.

Traditional roadmaps

Based on his previous experience in product management at companies, Stephen explains that traditional roadmaps make you assume that you can predict the future and everyone involved is an expert on anticipating what the customer and competitors will do next. These traditional product roadmaps are aimed at mapping out the future and consequently don’t help you understand why you’re building a product. No one can predict what a customer or competitor is going to do so it could lead to product failure. Stephen says to focus on why you're building the product and how you're going to impact customers, instead of focusing on when you plan on shipping your product. “Focus on the way things turn out, over the output of something produced,” Stephen says.

Building better roadmaps

To build better roadmaps, look at the problem, the opportunity, and the hypothesis to validate whether you are reaching the right goals. He explains that better roadmaps have no features or output, just hypotheses that teams are trying to validate or invalidate. Always start small and don’t plan too far ahead, Stephen explains. As you build, think about short iterations, he says. Always gather new information and release new ideas to figure out whether your hypothesis is working or not. Finally, always keep the persona at the front of what you’re thinking about.

Read about how to write effective user personas for a diverse audience

The bigger picture

To create better product roadmaps, Stephen says that we need to understand the bigger picture. That bigger picture starts with a vision—figure out what are you trying to achieve and why. Stephen believes that product managers often focus on the product roadmap way more than the vision and strategy. Focusing more on the latter is where you'll find 80% of your impact. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1600"] Breaking down The Bigger Picture (Image: Stephen Culligan)[/caption] As product managers, he says that we need to pivot our attention to the outcomes that will create a bigger impact on the products we are creating. Stephen encourages all product managers to excel in companies as product managers to be more visionary and strategic in what we're doing. Roadmaps and backlogs are important to provide timeline, tactics, and details, however, honing in on the strategy and vision of the product is where the real impact is made.

Enjoy more ProductTank content

ProductTanks are informal meetups, created by Mind the Product, to bring local product people together and to enable speakers to share amazing product insights. Today we have ProductTanks in more than 200 cities across the globe and there’s probably one near you. Learn more about ProductTank – find your local meetup, explore more ProductTank content, see the latest ProductTank news, and discover ways to get involved!

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