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The trick to creating strategic roadmaps

Love it or hate it, roadmaps are a reality of any tech venture. Sales, Tech, Product Management, everyone creates roadmaps. But often the roadmaps go stale or reality decides to deviate from the roadmap and we forget about them.

This is often the case when the roadmap is created looking forward i.e. we look at where we are and start adding things we hope to achieve at certain points in the future. We call them milestones and get a good picture of what might be possible.

But this kind of roadmap is just one of the many possible future paths. And the less stable the environment the less credible the roadmap will be.

But there’s a different perspective one can take when creating roadmaps. One that is perhaps much closer to the real reason roadmaps got so much hype in the business world. Enter the strategic roadmap.

By definition, a strategic roadmap is a written down or visualized form of your strategy. Writing down a roadmap allows you to communicate and distribute it, eliciting feedback from stakeholders, and becoming a reference point to which you can circle back, and focus discussions around.

But how do you create a strategic roadmap? Here’s the 3 step trick:

Step 1: Create your roadmap looking backward

Simply ask yourself what you want to achieve 3 years from now. Then ask, what would need to happen 2 years from now to achieve that outcome, then looks for a 1-year milestone that feeds the year 2 goal, and then 6 months from now, and finally 3 months from now.

Step 2: Adjust milestones to represent significant outcomes you can measure

With step 1, you already have a roadmap with milestones, but as you will find you might have put in too many details or focussed on things to do rather than outcomes you want to achieve. Step 2 is a reminder to check two things: Is an intermediate milestone significant enough to be on the roadmap, if not remove or adjust. And more importantly, how will you know when it’s done i.e. is it measurable?

Once you adjust the milestones for significance and measurability, your roadmap is already 10 steps ahead of most businesses.

Step 3: Filter through a strategic lens and adjust

This is the trick you came to this article for, so let’s turn this roadmap into a strategic one. A strategic roadmap plays out like a game of chess. Each move builds on top of the last, and creates a strategic advantage and space for upcoming moves i.e. you’re not just reacting to what the opponent did, but building up the board as you want it to get to a specific state that will ensure your win.

The milestones on your roadmap should play out the same. Each milestone will naturally have its impact, but do they enable the next milestone(s), and do they make it easier to take the next steps. If they do, you’re not just progressing, you’re creating an exponential advantage toward your eventual outcome.

A strategic roadmap will naturally leave out any unnecessary implementation details i.e. how you achieve the outcome is often not part of such a roadmap, hence the nick-name “high-level roadmap”. But more important than the brevity of such a roadmap, the clear focus on measurable outcomes frees up your mental energy to find creative ways to achieve your goals.

And last but not the least, such a roadmap never gets stale, because every time you see it, you know how close and far you are from your strategic goals, and allows you to course-correct without losing time on too much detail.

👉🏼 If this strategy to creating roadmaps makes sense to you, let me know, and do share it with the world!

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Balach

Balach

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Founder of https://epekworks.com — passionate about products and people, and helping them live meaningfully and well.