Designing the vision roadmap
If you checked out Taylor’s breakdown of the visioning process you’ll see it is complex. It was overwhelming the first four or five times I really put the time into trying to follow it along. It probably took at least six months for my mind to get strong enough to fully grasp what he’s talking about.
It’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. He takes the abstract, inspiring vision and transforms it into exactly what needs to be built today.
We often think about features we want to build and we forget the initial idea spark is the primary source of how we make every decision. Anything I do today or anything I make tomorrow must positively impact the momentum of my customer’s journey from day one all the way to the moment they decide to try, buy, and buy again.
Now that I have a better understanding of the process, I am going to innovate on top of it just a bit so that it fits my workflow and is easy for my customers to understand. Taylor talks great if you’re a product person, but for the common folk like myself it is intimidating – that’s exactly why it took me a million years to understand it.
I break it down into four questions. As you think through and imagine the answers to each question you are defining the path you need to take in order to turn that little beautiful baby idea in your mind into a game changing product that makes a dent in the universe.
(1) Where are you going? This is basically the vision statement. “I want to live in a world that looks like this…”
(2) When will you arrive? Think about the potential checkpoints or milestones you will need to reach on your journey towards the vision.
(3) Who will you bring with you? Get specific about your potential target market. Define the characteristics of the individual customer – how old, what pains do they experience that you aim to solve, and what value will you propose to them in order to get them interested in trying, buying, and buying again?
(4) What will it look like at each checkpoint or milestone? Describe what you will need to see and hear that will indicate you are on the path towards realizing your vision.
With the answers to each of the questions listed above, you should be able to fill-in-the-blanks to the below roadmap.
Question #1: this is phase 3. If you succeed in creating this awesome product, what will the interaction with those customers look like?
Question #2: In the top row, you’ll see “Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3”. This is where you place the amount of time it will take for you to get to each milestone in the journey. Taylor advises a 90 day total, and researching this topic at-large has left me with the understanding that 90 days is the typical length of a roadmap that leaves you with enough wiggle room to be innovative and agile.
Question #3: I list user and customer separately, but this is where you need to take creative ownership with your own project and fill those slots in with your own members. Specific answers to this question will be discovered in your value proposition canvas.
Question #4: Similar to #1, but broken down by milestone. Taylor advises to describe what your customer will be able to say they get from interacting/transacting with your brand
I find that this is a good exercise for stepping back from your big picture idea that one day you hope to deliver to your customer. Before you can deliver your idea to your customer, your customer has to become aware that you and your product exist. In the table above, the first 30 days of your roadmap might be dedicated to introducing your brand to your customer.
How might you take the customer from being UNAWARE of you, to being AWARE?
How might you take the customer from being AWARE of your product, to CONSIDER your product as a potential option?
How might you take the customer from CONSIDERING your product, to DECIDING to use your product?
How might you take the customer from DECIDING to use your product, to being LOYAL?
The four questions I just listed are helpful to think through as you define your value proposition within each column of the vision roadmap table.
If you are able to deliver the value proposition to each user interaction along the journey, it means you have successfully delivered your value proposition at each milestone of the journey.
Continue to work backwards, if you deliver on the value proposition xyz, what might you have to build in order to have accomplished the delivery of your proposition?
This is important because too many people rush straight into the feature development without fully thinking through what the purpose of the technology solution is meant to provide to the customer. Using the vision roadmap approach allows us to make educated decisions about features, and features are only a small piece of the big picture. Roadmaps are not a list of features you think your product needs to have. Showing a feature list as your roadmap is a clear indication that you have not nailed down value propositions, milestones, or a clear understanding of where you are going.
Visioning is like lifting weights for the mind
It is a new process so it might be awkward at first, but it is super fun. Ha…I think it’s fun. I am happy to give you feedback on your idea or vision or whatever is on your mind. Contact me anytime or let me know what’s up below.