Deliver a Product Roadmap That Survives Startup Velocity

This is how you build the car while it’s speeding down the highway

Joe Procopio

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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.

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com