Roadmapping That Works

Thanks to everyone who attended last week's webinar. I appreciated all the great questions. The recording and slides are now available as well as a full set of Visio and Excel templates below. I will also post the questions and answers from the webinar. I plan to add a lot more content in the coming weeks to provide greater detail about our product roadmapping framework and how to use it.


Basic Template - Excel / Visio

Expanded Template - Excel / Visio

Advanced Template - Excel / Visio

productcampRTP 2014 Presentation

I enjoyed spending Saturday at pcampRTP and appreciated the opportunity to present Finding the Best Frameworks for Product Management. The concepts in the presentation have been percolating in my head for a long time and I finally had a great venue to get the ideas organized, expressed and validated through feedback from a terrific audience. The roadmapping concepts resonated most and I plan to follow up with several more posts on roadmaps.

I look forward to seeing the other presentations once they're shared by the organizers. Some highlights - Mark McClear from Cree delivered a great keynote about their LED light bulb history from a product adoption point of view. Greg Hopper presented a fantastic overview of Product Strategy Lessons from Apple - a light speed talk in over 90 slides in 40 minutes. I can see how his courses at Duke must interest students.

Steve Johnson will be at the next pcamp in Boston on May 3rd. I recommend attending if you're in the area since time at these camps is well spent. 

Don’t learn everything at once

I've also learned that only through focus can you do world-class things, no matter how capable you are.—Bill Gates, Microsoft

In my first job out of college, I was a programmer working “week on/week off” which was really cool. We’d work 12 hours a day for 6 days, Thursday through Wednesday (with Sunday off), and then take a week off. “On” days were long (!) but we found two teams working in shifts reduced mistakes that were more likely with three teams. And of course, “week on/week off” was a great recruiting tool!


On my “off” weeks, my pal Jay taught me to play golf. Of course I’d played a little before but never really had the time to get any good at it. What really worked for me was the way Jay taught me to clubs. Initially I was only allowed to carry a 2, 6, and putter. Darn it! I have a whole bag of clubs! But we started with just a few. Once these were mastered, he allowed me more clubs.

So often, when you’re trying to learn something new, the topic can be overwhelming. Maybe we’d be better off to follow Jay’s advice and pick just a few clubs.

Lately everybody seems to be saying you should learn to program. But unless you have a reason—an application—you’re unlikely to stick with it. Same for a web site, or a blog, or whatever.

A friend hasn’t used Excel in years but thinks she should know it. But no matter how she tries, she just can’t get into it. The problem is, she doesn’t need it. She doesn’t have an application. And I’ve found that can’t really learn something until you have an application for it—a real need.

In my years teaching product management courses, people often said they wished they’d had the course when they started. But I wonder. Too many clubs just make for a confusing bag. Maybe new product managers need to ease into the job. (Particularly when everyone else in the company is desperately trying to dump their work on the new guy.)

Nowadays what I try to do is introduce people to frameworks just when needed

I have a bucketful of business frameworks—like three horizons, five forces, the S-curve of adoption. The trick isn’t to know the metaphor; the trick is to know when and how to apply it to your business problem.

What clubs should you start with? See my article Your first days… as product manager.

Inspiration: Apply people where their skills and talent can really shine

Apply people where their skills and talent can really shine. That's what management is all about.—Tom DeMarco. Everyone has the ability to succeed. And some of your people aren’t doing what they should.

I’ve known sales people who hate selling but that’s what they were trained to do. I’ve talked with product managers and product owners who didn’t like working with engineers and developers. I have friends who’ve been doing the same job for 20 years and can’t stand it.

Everyone has talent and many of us need help identifying that talent.

That’s what parents and teachers and managers were supposed to do.

Have career discussions with each member of your team before making organization changes. Obviously, you want the right people in the right place—where they can succeed professionally as well as personally. But it’s definitely worth asking the folks on your team what they like doing and where they want to grow. Don’t just move them around based solely on what they are currently doing.

We often look outside to find new sets of skills but there are many in your organization today who have the skills you need on your team. You just need to take the time to find them and groom them for these new roles.

I know it takes time. Talent management is one part of managing that often gets neglected when you’re doing all the other aspects of your job. When so many managers today are busy with other work, they often neglect the people management aspects of their jobs.

Being a manager of people means helping them identify their talents and their aspirations. Build professional development plans to help them achieve their goals. And you’ll be doing yourself a favor: you’ll be creating the team you need to move the organization to the next level.