How to achieve product goals this year by not focusing on the roadmap

These 4 things are more important than your product roadmap

Photo by Daniele Riggi on Unsplash

This is my busiest time of the year. As we are in the phase of reviewing the last year progress and planning for the new year.

I am having one-on-one sessions with everyone in my team. Reviewing the reports of product, marketing and business development. It’s an exercise to understand how we have been doing and what my team thinks about the progress and the results?

When you are working on a product you have to remember one thing. This is not a 2 or 4 weeks sprint, this is a marathon. You have to continuously see the big picture, find where your product is standing, and then keep working hard to achieve the goals.

That’s why instead of preparing a roadmap, I work on fixing some basics which help me and my team to achieve our product goals.

But, what’s wrong with product roadmap?

Product roadmap itself is not a problem. You can create a best plan based on available qualitative and quantitative data. You also include your gut feelings.

But, the real problem with the roadmap is that we get ourselves involved in it so much. We don’t think (or even look) outside of it during the whole period.

We forget what is the bigger picture? We forget what was the actual purpose of the roadmap? We go with the flow. And that is the problem.

So that’s why instead of preparing a roadmap, I focus on 4 things that I think are more useful and important for any startup. They will help us define the roadmap along the way.

So let’s see what are those 4 things that you should do at the start of each year.


Re-alignment of responsibilities

Running a startup is difficult because there are not very clear role defined, usually. But if you try to design the responsibilities, you have to take some new initiatives in the mid of the year and some one has to take the ownerships.

Also sometimes more than one person has to work on the same thing. One person in your team can get confused on which thing they should focus on.

For example, you may have to start working on Facebook Messenger bot, now who is the right person to run this initiative? May be you guys need to start a new newsletter series but there is already a schedular preparing by another product manager who sends the emails of product updates.

You have to do a lot of small things that you didn’t plan before. You will have to find the right person to do the job.

This is the right time to re-align the responsibilities and structure of the team and tasks. Find what are the most important things you need to focus and then who is the right person for the job.

But things are not always black or white. There are always few things where more than one person has to work or more than one channels are involved to achieve one task.


See the big picture

Read the book: Leaders Make the Future

If you want to achieve your big goals you should regularly talk about it with your team. Review your current and upcoming tasks and see if they are aligned with your vision.

Here’s an example.

You have a vision of your product and at the start of every quarter when the team brings new ideas, the first thing you have to check is whether the idea is helping us achieving our long term goal? If not, we will not work on it.

But during the product planning and development phases we tend to add more features and we think it’s ‘cool’. Often they are not aligned with our vision. They are from our own wishlist.

So at the start of the year you should revisit each and everything to see if there is anything we are doing which is not driving us to the end goal. You must remove those things unless you think you have time to waste.


Fast and steady

A famous book by Jonathan Taplin

Remember, this is a marathon. You have to be steady — and — you have to be fast. Your competitors are huge. There could be some other startups or there could be another technology change which is more frequent than any other thing.

From the day one, we have focused on our work speed. We have learned so much when think about moving fast.

You can learn a lot of new skills. You can’t learn them if you go slow.

You learn how to find an easy solution, how to save the cost and how not to reinvent the wheel?

There is a difference between MVP and half cooked product.

Set smaller deadlines and release the product as soon as possible. But make sure you don’t release an half-cooked feature.


Divide your tasks and make people owner

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You cannot do everything and people don’t wanna do things which is not owned by them. So make sure that you assign the jobs to them and make them owners. You will get more results when they will find it interesting.

There must be some reward behind it. It can be anything. It can be learning, it can be money, It can be personal growth.

Making them motivated by assigning them the complete ownership. Then keep encouraging them to achieve their goals.


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