Deliver a Product Roadmap That Survives Startup Velocity
This is how you build the car while it’s speeding down the highway
There’s an often misunderstood metaphor in the startup universe about how building a high-growth startup is like building a car while that car is speeding down the highway.
How do you plan for that without losing your mind? Or more importantly, without losing buy-in from your team, let alone your board and investors?
I just delivered our company’s product roadmap for the last quarter of this year and all of next year. Complete. Thorough. On one page. I feel pretty good about its chances of survival as everything changes around us, from our ever-shifting internal priorities to the unprecedented magnitude and pace of upheaval in the global economy.
It’s a lot to juggle. But this isn’t the first time I’ve developed a unique roadmap for a high-tech, high-growth startup. I didn’t just create a document out of thin air. It took time to deliver a document that will remain relevant for more than just a couple of weeks.
It all starts with goals.
Goals Don’t Change, But They’re Rarely Understood
This post is the third in a loose series on the unique needs of a startup when it comes to developing a roadmap. The key factor that makes those needs so unique is known as velocity, which, for our purposes, can be defined as the intensity at which a startup has to produce in order to survive.
A high-growth startup is always at breakneck velocity, which I alluded to when I talked about how everything from priorities to economic factors changes, potentially drastically, from one day or one week to the next.
At that kind of velocity, a startup’s roadmap has to be flexible, has to bend and not break, has precious little room for error, and has to be brief and to the point. I can’t tell you how many companies, startups and large corporations alike, develop a product roadmap every quarter and then essentially tuck it into a drawer, never to be seen again.
Big, deep-pocketed corporations can get away with this. When a startup does it, it’s a death sentence.