CHAPTER 23The Alternative to Roadmaps

In this chapter, I describe the alternative to product roadmaps. It's a big topic, and it touches on issues beyond product roadmaps, such as product culture, morale, empowerment, autonomy, and innovation. But my hope is to lay the foundation here and provide the details in the chapters that follow.

Before we jump into the alternative, however, we need to remind ourselves that roadmaps have existed for so long because they serve two purposes, and these needs don't go away:

  • The first purpose is because the management of the company wants to make sure that teams are working on the highest‐business‐value items first.
  • The second purpose is because—since they're trying to run a business—there are cases where they need to make date‐based commitments, and the roadmap is where they see and track those commitments (even though in most companies, they rarely trust the dates anymore).

So, to be accepted in most companies, any alternative approach to roadmaps must address these needs at least as well as they are addressed today.

In the empowered product team model this book is predicated on, the teams are themselves equipped to figure out the best ways to solve the particular business problems assigned to them. But for this to happen, it's not enough to have strong people equipped with modern tools and techniques. The product teams need to have the necessary business context. They need to have a solid understanding of where the company is heading, ...

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