Back in 2017 I was Head of Product at Time Doctor, a time tracking and employee attendance SaaS product.
The company was 100% remote, with over 80 people in 28 different countries (such as Poland, Canada, Thailand, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Australia, Egypt). Every year we held a whole company retreat in some exotic location, such as Miami or Bali.
In September 2017 about half the company met-up in Greece, Athens, which almost the entire product team. The CEO couldn’t make it so I played a pre-recorded message from him, and then I opened with my main presentation.
I wanted to kick-off the 5-day retreat with something special, something big and something memorable. We had people traveling from all over the world to the company meet-up to plan out the product for the next year and beyond so I really wanted to inspire everyone and help build momentum towards what I had envisioned for the product.
My opening presentation was “The 10 Year Roadmap for Time Doctor!”, a spectacular and visionary roadmap for the product. Many features such as machine learning enchanted predictive timesheets, Slack bots, Chrome Extensions and more…
What I realised is many people in the product team weren’t focused on these long-term goals. These were far-off outputs that we maybe could achieve.
Instead, everyone wanted to talk about potential problems which could be just around the corner. What did we want to achieve next? Where does the business and higher management see the product heading in the short to medium term?
I had made my product vision way too broad; my 1-3-5-10 year plan didn’t really mean much to my team.
After the company retreat I headed to the 2017 Mind the Product event in London. This was my first time at the main London conference and here I met someone called Janna Bastow
, the CEO of ProdPad. I’d describe ProdPad as a “notepad for product managers to help communicate product things to everyone else”, it has roadmaps, plus a lot of other useful product-focused features.
When Janna demoed the roadmaps featured I realised I had made a grave mistake with my team in Greece.
I had gone for the long-term vision, the big grandiose vision of what the product could become.
What Janna introduced to me was this concept of an “outcome-based roadmap” plotted across a shorter timeframes of “now”, “next” and “future”.
This for me was some kind of sudden moment of clarity! This is the obvious way to do a product roadmap.
In early 2019 I left Time Doctor, and as far as I’m aware my 10-year roadmap is not underway. This proves to me I was way too forward-looking and way too ambitious with my product roadmap.
In the rest of this week’s newsletter, I want to share with you some articles I’ve found useful and helpful over the years. I’m now personally I huge advocate for the “outcome roadmap vs. the output roadmap”, and I encourage you to look into it.