The Lean Roadmap


There are so many features you may want to add to your product, but there never seems to be enough time, am I right? Product management for startups is still an open issue. Why is that? There are at least two reasons to explain it:

  1. It’s difficult to define what features you should add to the product;

2. It’s difficult to identify when to add those features.

A roadmap comes handy. A good roadmap should give a clear answer to those 2 problems.

Problem 1: When to add a feature?

If you think about it, the whole concept of roadmap is against the lean principles. Adding a roadmap means planning the future in a mid-long term view.

The Lean Analytics Stages Model by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz outlined in Lean Analytics allows you to identify in which phase of your startup you are. Based on this, you will know what is your main objective that you have to achieve in this phase. And plan features accordingly.

Problem 2: What feature to add?

Software is an amazing thing. What you can create with software nowadays is almost limitless. But you have to add features by following some kind of objectives. Some practitioners say you just have to follow purely expected revenue, but the Lean Analytics Stages disagrees with this concept. And so do I. For this Lean Roadmap Model, I’m going to use the Hooked Model outlined in Hooked by Nir Eyal.

The Hook Model divides features into 4 different areas, with the objective to be the natural solution to a problem in the user’s mind. Really disruptive products should aim at this. This is why I chose this model.

Solution: The Lean Roadmap Canvas

By trying to solve both problems, reorganize your features on a canvas that takes care of both of them. The Lean Roadmap Canvas.

This canvas allows you to achieve two goals in your product planning:

  • Reorder the features you already have planned in the right box;
  • Put the features you decided to add to your product roadmap in the right box;

Both goals will make all your efforts very focused. Plus, they will allow you not to waste time on features that are not required in the startup phase you are going through right now.

How to use it?

After having reorganized your features, focus on one box at a time. Here is my suggestion about how to do it:

  • Select a desired outcome for this box;
  • Select the metric that will measure the goal and a feasible goal;
  • Write down a list of things/features that will help achieve this goal;
  • Test/implement one feature at a time and measure how it affects the metric;
  • When you have achieved your desired goal, you can pass to the next box.

Here is where the “lean” comes in. Each box is very focused, but still not planned. Based on the results of continuous experiments you will perform with new features, you will change everything on the map. This will allow you both to be lean AND to have a mid-long term view of your product.

Thanks for reading,
please let me know your comments on Twitter,
Nicolas :)

Notes


a) Diletta, that helped me correct my English, told me that the article is very compact and that I should have explained the concept more clearly. I think this is because this Model is strongly based on the Hook and Lean Analytics Stages Models. So, if you wanna dive into those two theories, please read the following:

b) I wanna thank the author of those two books. I think that they are revolutionizing not only the startup movement, but also slowly the whole corporate environment.

c) Cover pic from Harry Potter.

d) Update: comments by the authors whose theories this article is based on:

e) Updates: comments/features from around the web. (Just to boost my ego) :p