Here’s one simple way of showing a scope or product roadmap to your partners and clients. I’ve found partners can absorb it quickly, get excited about it, and understand the hard work that’ll need to happen first before it can be fully realized. Thanks to Lu Lacourte and the team at Cibo to introducing me to this useful format and approach.
1. Create Three Themes: Take the long list of scope you have and reduce it to three themes. Like most projects, you probably have a long wishlist of functionality in a spreadsheet that was developed at an offsite (or worse, by consultants) to kick off a project. Read through it with three colored highlighters and try to identify three themes. Think, “If I only had three teams of 8 people looking at relevant, related scope, how might I gang it up so they can talk about it intelligently together?”.
Here’s a slide I made up for a recent consulting project:
Remember, your grouping is just a guess and will likely kick off a good discussion. Try to stick with one-word categories for each theme so it’s easier to remember and discuss.
2. Create Epic Stories of Scope: Next, gang up the hundreds of functional scope items into no more than 8 or ten ‘epic stories’, or big buckets of related scope. Take a guess and imagine what might use similar technologies. Then arrange them across from your three themes in priority, left to right (note: the boxes in gray to the right are recommended for later releases):
You’ll note here I’ve put a whole bunch of the foundation/infrastructure work that has to be done first on the bottom. Though I didn’t talk about it in the previous slide (because nobody wants to talk about infrastructure and systems when the room is eager to hear about the future), I just made it the bedrock of the cool stuff that needs to get done within the three themes.
However, make it clear foundations/infrastructure DOES need to get done for the cool stuff to happen.
3. Look Forward. Way Forward. Quickly step back and remind them, on slide 3, of the wonderful stuff that can happen in future ‘horizons’. Show them you are not only thinking clearly about what needs to happen today, but planning for big changes in the future. Stuff they haven’t even thought of yet:
Notice I still left the ‘Foundations’ strip at the bottom to let them know even the future can’t be built on air.
I’ve found this relatively simple format has led to lots of sparks and good ideas. And, strangely enough, even though it is so high level that it doesn’t answer any project plan questions, it does get folks focused on the future, while reducing expectations in the near term.
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
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