Can I get a show of hands from how many people have ever had an awesome idea shot down due to politics or flimsy opinions?
Yep, I’ll bet you’ve been in client or stakeholder meetings finding yourself hit with a bunch of questions and critique about the decisions or recommendations you’ve made. Heck, you might even have a great story to tell and well thought out reasons for why you did what you did. Yet, there you sit, watching all that great work get flushed down the drain right before your very eyes by the highest paid, or the loudest (or both!) person in the room. Often, the discussion turns to things about the product or service that fly in the face of customer needs or even our own company objectives. Watching well crafted ideas get argued away in a single meeting is like squabbling over what to have for dinner while the house burns down around you.
Here’s the good news: killing politics and emotions in your design or product strategy doesn’t have to be an impossible task. By setting clear, well defined goals for your strategy, you can easily sell great ideas, decisions and recommendations without banging your head against the wall.
Have you ever found yourself having worked very long and very hard on a product roadmap presentation for your senior management only to find that it didn’t have the impact you’d hoped?
How could this be? We had every resource, milestone, deadline and feature detailed to the letter. Yet, that meeting didn’t go the way we wanted, and we sure as hell don’t feel any more confident in the direction our product is going.
A product roadmap was supposed to fix our strategic problems and get all the stakeholders aligned. After the meeting, we go and make new updates to the roadmap and get ready for the next meeting. Several months go by and we realize, we’ve spent nearly all our time updating the roadmap or plan, but haven’t actually made any progress. Worse yet, someone eventually asks “did we talk with customers about this?” and that’s when it hits you… we may have a flawless plan to go and solve the wrong problems.
Product roadmaps give you “what” but not the “why”
I’d bet good money that if you have spent any significant time building product roadmaps, you eventually came to a point where you realized “this isn’t working”. You’re trying your best to get people on board with the design and product recommendations you’re making, but the roadmap just isn’t doing the trick. You make edit after edit and still, the senior management and design/development teams feel no more confident that we’re doing the right things. That’s because a product roadmap is a plan not a strategy.
How do you know you’re building the right products and features? Is there anything more frustrating than planning design and development efforts with no real understanding of our customers or how we’re helping our business?