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How to agree on a roadmap by "meeting in the middle"
Most companies treat roadmaps like a pyramid process:
1️⃣ Leadership/founders decide what to build…
2️⃣ PM team explains the features, generally in PRDs
3️⃣ Designers design the features
4️⃣ Engineers code the features.
Many think this is the right way, but this is “management’s comfortable way”. It grants them control over what is built and feels “efficient”. In reality, this leads to worst products, unhappier teams and unexplored opportunities.
A better way is what I call "meeting in the middle":
1️⃣ Leadership/management explores and exposes opportunities, generally tied to a) company strategy, b) OKRs, c) strategic initiatives.
2️⃣ Product teams (including PMs, Designers, Engineers and others) ideate solutions to tackle those opportunities. Occasionally they also highlight unexplored opportunities that their field-view made them aware.
3️⃣ Both meet in the middle to discuss and agree on scope (what success looks like), resources (how many people are available to tackle the opportunities) and timelines (when is a feasible time goal that meets company goals).
This "top-down" + "bottom-up" approach has a significant upside:
💪 Empowers teams to explore solutions, and gets their buy in to the strategic decisions
🎯 Grants management a more targeted control, but over opportunities, instead of features
🤝 Allows for agreement and expectation management, where both parties know where one ends and the other starts
Win win for everyone, especially for better products.