We predict that the years roughly between 1980 — 2050 will be recognized as the Software Revolution era. The era will be defined by the augmentation of intelligence, software tools, and experience by computers. The historical definition of the period may be:
“A period of major industrialization that took place during the late 1900s and early 2000s. The Software Revolution began in the United States and quickly spread throughout the world. This time period saw the computerization of business and personal life and had a massive effect on economic, social, and cultural conditions.”
If you work in technology you likely agree that this time period is unique and being driven by a number of powerful factors including the democratization of cloud-based tools, widespread broadband access, and the emergence of mobile devices. Software has been commercialized at a dizzying pace, yet new processes and technologies are just starting to be developed to bring efficiency to idea development and execution.
Of the three major forces mentioned above, the democratization of software development is having the most profound impact — it’s both structure and finish. Democratization equates to a world where all that is needed to create great software is a computer and a bold idea (and some dev chops of course) and a marketplace of free and low cost tools that billions of people and millions of businesses have immediate access to.
“We've MVP'd our way to an unsatisfying product. I want an Aha moment”
The challenge is that most of us still attempt to use Word, Excel, and PPT as a product roadmap tool. This makes it difficult to share ideas and lead collaborative teams to build great product. It’s time to get your mojo back and take a radical new approach to strategy and roadmapping. It's time to use software made for product managers.
Building great software is hard, but it should not be excruciating.
How many roadmap meetings have you left asking yourself "what did that relate to?" or "what was that decision based on?" Aligning the "whats" and "hows" of business to the "whys" is critical to team motivation and success. And when this does not happen startups fail and larger companies struggle to keep up. Larger companies have more girth to survive, but by the time they are talking about "failing faster" or "change management" they have already lost.
Focusing on "goal first" is important in every business but fundamental in software companies. This is because the software that is produced by the team is the product that customers buy and thus the product is the company. Build the wrong product and you kill the company. Build the right product, define a market, and be loved.
While behemoth group-think processes, bureaucratic gating, and trickle-down-development destroy innovation and make it hard to define any product roadmap, blind obsession with agile methods of development carry their own risks. We have seen failures in both waterfall and agile development organizations.
As a great product manager you must establish a "goal first" approach and a true north for your product based on the best information you have. Reaffirm your strategy and tweak it as a necessary, but stay grounded in what you are trying to achieve. Your product roadmap lays out a true north and explains to the team the value new releases and features will deliver to customers and the business. If you get your product strategy and roadmap right, your company and team will follow. Lose your direction or whip-saw the team back and forth and the complaints will smack you down.
We built Aha! with this goal in mind — a new roadmap tool for software product managers.