From Whiteboards to Your Roadmap: The Missing Link
May 31, 2022

From Whiteboards to Your Roadmap: The Missing Link

by Brian de Haaff

What do you say when no one is listening? This is a bit of a trick question because someone is always listening — you. When you are working through a tough problem or imagining something new, you probably engage in vigorous internal dialogue. Posing questions, giving answers, expressing exasperation, and encouraging yourself to keep going. But self-talk can only get you so far.

Breakthrough products are always the result of a collective effort — refining insights to build the best possible solution.

In recent months I have been sharing my perspective on the maturation of product development. The essence of that exploration focused on three core areas: the importance of a product development engine, the impact of a high-functioning product team, and the power of value-based decision-making. My experiences building products, speaking with product leaders, and working alongside our team at Aha! coalesced to inform this perspective.

This is why I enjoy writing. It forces distillation of complex problems down to the simplest answer. And the responses to these recent blog posts about product development have a through-line. People want to know how to improve product development at their organization. Well, there is no simple solution because every organization has different challenges. But a few guiding principles can help all teams.

Product success hinges on the ability to gain unique customer insights, articulate raw concepts, and convert early ruminations into actionable roadmaps.

Unfortunately this is where processes often go sideways. Most of us are pulled in many directions and product information feels scattered and disconnected. Every product manager I know has a brimming notebook (or two). There is customer feedback, suggestions from internal teammates, and general improvements — stashed in emails, spreadsheets, and docs.

We miss opportunities when we separate those note-taking and whiteboarding activities from planning work. You need a path that allows you to turn all of that data into actionable roadmaps that can be presented for assessment. Ensure continuity throughout the product development process by bringing it all together.

When you tighten the transition from early ideation to roadmap planning, you can bring more joy to customers who use the product and the team who builds it.

Product development is a race against time. Going from idea to implementation requires mental flexibility and creative collaboration — refining against strategy, resources, and the ineffable quality that makes your product unique. The companies who streamline all aspects of the process, especially innovation, are the ones best poised to achieve market success.

We all need a better bridge from concept to features. This is why Aha! continues to expand what we offer in our product development software suite. We have plans to incorporate more robust note-taking and whiteboarding functionality into Aha! Roadmaps. And we recently announced Aha! Create — a digital notebook for product builders who want to capture thoughts on the fly and collaborate with the team to bring raw concepts to life. (If you are interested in it, stay tuned — our early access program launches soon.)

Accelerate your product development process with a set of integrated tools.

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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