The business roadmap — and why you need one

Posted on December 12, 2013. Filed under: neuresource group TV, Tara Neven | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

neuresource TV presents:

Tara roadmap snip

Tara Neven on why a custom roadmap is essential for strategy success

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A popular approach being applied to long range planning is to produce a roadmap that outlines the path to the future. Roadmaps and the road mapping process in general can serve as excellent communication tools and an effective means to link strategic operations, collaborative ventures, and even business plans. A roadmap can be used to implement a new initiative, to develop and launch a new product or service, or to repair a pain point in the organisation.

However, in order to achieve success with a roadmap, it must target the right  approach, involve the right collective and collaborative intelligence in the organisation, and provide enough detail for people to be able to apply the road map but not be overly-detailed, which could result in clogging the road with red tape and other barriers.

With shrinking product and service life cycles as well as  rapid technology changes, roadmaps have become an invaluable tool to help plan an organisation’s future direction along with the future market, customer, or stakeholder needs.

Elements of a successful roadmap

a_compass_sitting_on_a_stack_of_folded_road_maps_poster-r05bc98e42727495a8076928590ff9fbb_wvc_8byvr_324Think about the business roadmap approach like any other map used to travel. Just as a map shows a starting point and an ultimate destination, so does your organisational roadmap. It shows the different routes you can take, where there are choices and where there is not. It helps us identify roadblocks to avoid or construction needed to better achieve the final destination.

According to Technology Futures Inc. in a 2005 white paper on strategic roadmaps:

A roadmap process is a means to connect vision, values, and objectives with strategic actions that are required to achieved those objectives.

Organisations need to transform themselves into more focused entities by developing an organisational structure that recognises the need for a more integrated approach to management.

Steps to take

There are three essential keys to creating a successful roadmap. The first is that they must be customised to each unique situation. What can inhibit the effective use of roadmaps is a lack of understanding. Leaders need to be aware that there are multiple levels, types and styles of roadmaps.  It’s important to ensure that the interdependencies of each step along the way are understood and planned for. Additionally, a fundamental element of a strategic roadmap is that it focuses resources on the critical elements designed to meet the larger strategy.

There are also many types of roadmaps and it’s important  to ensure you are using the one that will support your strategy. Some examples of the various types of roadmaps include project or issue roadmaps, capability roadmaps, market roadmaps, and technology or services roadmaps. Where we see roadmaps most effectives is in flattened, self empowered organisational structures. Cross-functional or portfolio teams use roadmaps to great advantage because they support effective communication.

6a00d8341c3e6353ef00e5520fca008834-800wiThe second key to a successful roadmap is that there must be actionable steps identified as those that are necessary to get to the destination. In this process, it’s important that alternate routes are  identified in order to optimise resources or minimise risk. It is important that the key leadership group in the organisations is identified to drive the roadmap, that boundaries are defined, and that there is a  roadmap sponsor, much as with project management.

The third and most important step, as  identified in the neuresource group STEAR model, is that even if there is a clear strategy and well developed roadmap, its delivery will fail without the engagement and collaboration of  of all the stakeholders.  Placing a high value on collaboration and social connectedness in the workplace helps employees and stakeholders feel connected to the leaders who are driving the strategy because they feel they have a relationship built on trust. The support of effective engagement regarding the roadmap is paramount to its success. The collaborative process must instill a spirit of inclusiveness, practicality, and out of the box thinking, as well as an opportunity to address and discuss challenges and conflict in the process (call them roadblocks).

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Tara Neven is the co-founder/director of neuresource group.  As an entrepreneur, business strategist, facilitator, learning and development, and collective leadership specialist, Tara has over 15 years experience in corporate learning and development, education, business growth and organisational development. The last 10 years of this experience has been in remote and regional areas of Australia. Tara’s primary industry experience has been in the mining and resource sector, construction, local government and medium to large organisations.

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