Where we go wrong with Agile

I’m no expert on Agile software development or agile working but being more agile in the ways we work is something I have aspired to for many years, so I have an opinion on where we might sometimes go wrong when implementing agile in an organisation.

The problems of the realities of agile not meeting the expectations are rooted, I think, in that many people consider agile an implementation methodology, all about producing work, doing stuff. And it isn’t about doing, it’s about learning. Agile is a learning methodology.

The first five words of the Agile Manifesto, “We are uncovering better ways…” seem very much about learning. It doesn’t say, “We have ‘uncovered’ better ways”, to state that the better ways to do software development have been found, so no need to keep looking. And it doesn’t say, “We have uncovered the ‘best’ way”, to state that the one true answer has been found. No, it says that being agile is about always looking for and uncovering better ways, always learning.

If we view agile in this way, as all about learning, then more things start to make sense. The regular cadence and short time boxes with fast feedback loops facilitate learning, not producing more work.

It’s all about learning

Recently, I’ve noticed a theme emerging across the ideas I have for side-projects. Broadly, one way or another they are all about ‘learning’. Not just learning in the individual educational sense, but also organisational learning, team learning sense.

When I talk of learning in this way it is within the context of knowledge work, which I think is more fundamentally different to material work than we’ve fully realised. Generally, we treat work as being about producing and moving about ‘things’, because that is what work has been about for a long time. So even if our work is knowledge work we still treat it in this old way.

Modern knowledge work doesn’t really work in this kind of inventory management way. It’s, very generally, about creating new knowledge or organising existing knowledge, and I don’t think we have the mental models to deal with work like this. When knowledge workers talk of their job as producing something, they usually refer to the report they’ve written or spreadsheet they’ve filled in, rather than talking about their work as creating new knowledge.

To create new knowledge you have to learn. You have to learn new information, learn ways to analyse and synthesise, learn ways to communicate. This is what knowledge workers really do. They learn.

So, the side-projects I work on are vaguely centred around some of these ideas about what learning means as a knowledge worker. Not just pedagogical learning of information and techniques to do a job, but learning as a job.

The practicalities of living a digital nomad life

Why are you a nomad?

People become digital nomads or vanlifers or travelers for all kinds of reasons. For some it’s a way to save money, to see more of the world, to find yourself.

For me it was about choosing to live life intentionally and having a bit of an adventure, so I decided I would live in my car as I travel around the coast of England, Wales and Scotland, and that it would take as long as it takes.

What car do you have?

I have a Ford Galaxy with the back seats laid flat. On one side I have my bed (luckily I’m not very tall) and on the other side there are boxes to organise my food, clothes, books, etc. The rear windows are tinted for a bit of privacy but I can still look out and see the world around me. One of my reasons for not getting a van was that I didn’t want to feel like I was living in a box. Windows let me connect with the beautiful places I visit.

How often do you move?

I go somewhere different everyday. Each morning I look at a map and choose where I’m going to go. I never plan ahead more than that day. Not needing to plan ahead is part of pleasure of a nomadic life. If I move on and can’t find somewhere to park for the day I always know I can go back to where I was yesterday, but I’ve never needed to.

Do you get cold?

It can get a little chilly sometimes but I’ve never been really cold. I have thermal underwear but I’ve never used it. I have two sleeping bags, a thin 1 season and a thicker 3 season, which together have always kept me warm at night. My car has heating if I need it and the small space warms up really quickly. For my laptops, getting too hot is more of a problem in summer than getting cold, but I cover the windows and use the car’s air conditioning to cool them if I need to.

Is it safe?

Safety for myself and security for my car and belongings is something I consider quite carefully. The reason I choose the car that I did was so I can park on a residential street at night and no one takes any notice. It’s pretty easy to spot most vans that people are living in, but I wanted to be a bit more stealthy about it, not for the majority of people who aren’t bothered, but for the one person who thinks that if someone is living in their car then they probably have all their possessions in there, which means there might be something worth stealing.

I have a rucksack that has all my important and valuable possessions, which I take with me whenever I leave my car for any length of time. It also has a spare set of clothes, phone battery pack, and all the other things that I’d need if my car was stolen and I needed to go to a B&B for a few days. Going to a B&B is pretty much my backup plan for if anything goes wrong with my car. Doing a risk assessment and having a backup plan is part of being safe (not just for nomads, everyone should do it).

What do you do with your possessions?

I don’t own much. I never have. I threw away a lot of stuff when I started living in my car and I keep throwing away even more. The things I kept ‘just in case’ turned out to not be needed. So all I own is some clothes (still more than I need), my laptop, phone, etc., and books. Too many books, especially given how heavy they are. Maybe I’ll get rid of them too one day.

Do you cook?

I don’t cook. I used to have a kettle that plugged-in to the power sockets in the car but it blew the fuses and seemed more hassle than it was worth. I’m pretty ambivalent about food so as long as my body is getting the nutrients it needs I’m fine with cold food. Occasionally I might go to a cafe for some hot food but I’m really not that bothered. My simple diet usually includes cereal and a banana for breakfast, fruit for snacks and sandwiches or tinned food for dinner.

How do you work?

I work digitally, remotely, and quite often asynchronously. All I need is a laptop, power and mobile phone signal. I have two laptops so that I always have a backup, and an invertor which I plug my laptops into to charge them. I use an app called MastData to find areas with the best signal strength and park there for the day. I look for places where I can switch my engine on to charge my laptops without annoying anyone. Remote working has been an enabler for this lifestyle.

What do you do with your free time?

I go for a walk every day. Usually to a beach. In the winter that might mean walking in the dark but that’s part of the adventure. In the summer, it sometimes means going for a swim too. I work on lots little projects too. I do things like creating the greatest collection of stiles on the internet, writing an email newsletter that offer a different perspective on common ideas, and creating a guided learning course about the skills we need for a successful future career.

Do you get lonely?

No. I don’t miss company at all. I probably have face-to-face contact with another person once every two or three months, and that’s usually someone serving in a shop. I talk to people on the phone, do video calls, chat, etc., but I believe I could go without human contact for a long time without it bothering me. Digital nomad life doesn’t have to be so anti-social but for me it’s an important part of it. It’s part of figuring out what really matters.

What’s the best thing about being a digital nomad?

Most of nomadic life is just like non-nomadic life; eating, sleeping, working, etc., but the best bits are the surprises. When something happens that you know would never happened if you lived in one place, that’s when you really appreciate it. I was swimming in the sea one evening and a seal surfaced about twenty metres away and looked at me. I’ve seen dolphins, walked in dinosaur footprints, watched the most awe-inspiring sunsets, and sometimes felt completely at peace, like no one knows where I am and nothing can touch me. It’s at times like this when I feel my mind open and my thoughts soar.

Retrospective December 2021

This month’s lesson was that I like exploring. This leaves me torn between trying to have more focus on fewer things (product management) and having the freedom to do new things. Perhaps I can find a way to divide my time between the two ways but I’ll need to be disciplined as otherwise the exciting new stuff will always take over the more long-term stuff.

Contributing to the digital transformation of the charity sector

I had my first week at RNID. I’m excited by the work, the ways of working, the team, the charity’s mission. I’m really looking forward to getting into the work and figuring out where I can contribute the most.

I’ve been considering whether to try digital volunteering. I haven’t looked into it much yet as I want to more certain about the time I have available and where I want to focus my energy, but it’s on the list.

Learning about innovation, technology, product and design

I received a Distinction for my MSc, so that’s nice. Reflecting back on the two years I really enjoyed the learning and writing the essays, and especially my dissertation, which improved my critical thinking, but Birkbeck University was really badly organised and provided a poor student experience. Given that I decided to do the course for the experience of doing it rather than for any benefit having the qualification might bring, I’d say I’m definitely glad I did it.

Started the British Sign Language online course and completed a few modules from Microsoft Learn. I’m finding the sign language easier to remember than I thought I would but expect the course to get harder as we get into sentences and it become harder to remember over time. The Microsoft courses are basic introductions particular products and I’ve been focusing on Dynamics 365 CRM and customer service stuff at the moment.

Wrote a few more emails for FutureSkills.info. I have fourteen more to write, and although it’s taking much longer to write them than I thought I’m still enjoying getting into each topic. Although it’s a product that doesn’t really align with where I think I want to be exploring it feels like it’s one I can complete and launch and learn from.

I’m up to ten Irregular Ideas emails. I need to decide whether to continue with it next year or focus on product management stuff and other platforms. I enjoy writing the little essays but I don’t really have an plan in mind for the newsletter so need to consider whether it’s really where I should be focusing my energy.

I wrote weeknotes on schedule every week.

Leading an intentional life

My nomadic life along the coastline continued and I visited lots of cool places. My financial measures are doing well but I need a strong concerted effort on improving my physical health. That should be my focus.

Annual review 2021

2021 in summary

  • Became a digital nomad and traveled around some of the coastline of England and Wales.
  • Completed my MSc in Business Innovation with a Distinction.
  • Learned about the creator economy and started a few side-projects.
  • Took on a new role as the Product and Delivery Lead at RNID.

The happenings

Worked remotely

Embodied my philosophy of what good product management looks like in charities using my interface, integrate, iterate thing. Launched a new product at the Prince’s Trust, supported colleagues to do good work and improve their practice, and learned a lot about the use of digital in charities.

I did some voluntary product work for a few organisations in the charity sector. I really enjoyed being a kind of critical friend/opinion provider, even if at times I felt like I didn’t have a clear offer to provide.

Joined the RNID digital and innovation team to build products that make life more inclusive for deaf people and the those with hearing loss or tinnitus.

Explored emerging trends

Got into web3 a bit, learned about NFT’s and created some of my own. Of all the divisive opinions on Twitter, anything related to Blockchain, crypto and NFT’s seems even more divisive. I think everyone is right, and emerging trends need all opinions to help reach the dominant design in order to become mainstream. My opinion, in general, is that what people miss most about web3 stuff is that it isn’t for the humans, it’s for the machines. For example, an NFT isn’t about art, it offers a way for a computer to understand ownership, and a DAO isn’t about running a business, its about providing a means for a computer to understand contractual conditions. These things become clearer when you look with a post-human point-of-view (which is another trend that interested me in 2021).

I became interested in the creator economy and the use of nocode tools. I think it shows the trend of diversified income and micro-businesses that will extend the long tail of companies even further, and we’ll know that creators and solopreneurs have jumped the curve when one disrupts an industry in the way we’ve come to expect startups to. I made my first £ on the internet (as a creator, I’ve selling stuff on the internet for over a decade) which is considered a bit of a threshold point in the creator community. Started ultimatedigital.tools and futureskills.info as nocode info products.

Learned specifically

I finished my masters in Business Innovation with a distinction. My dissertation was about innovation and new product development practices in charities and was lots of fun to write. I felt a little lost for a while after finishing it because I’d been so focused on it.

Took a Service Design course and started learning British Sign Language.

And I read lots on Twitter and on other websites, and listened to quite a few podcasts, and even tried to read a couple of books.

I learned to write better, to think more critically, and to accept a wider range of opinions.

Learning is one of my three lifelong goals, and I divide it into three sections; formal learning and qualifications, practical project-based learning, and reading and reflective practice. This gives me a useful balance, keeps me engaged and makes tracking progress towards the goal easier.

Traveled slowly

Between the end of the lockdown in May and the end of the year I traveled around the coast of England and Wales between Southampton and Pembroke. Along the way I visited 230 amazing and beautiful places, swam in the sea, even with a seal once, and saw dolphins.

The digital nomad lifestyle suits me perfectly. I can work remotely during the day, and go for walks and work on various projects in the evening. The simplicity of the physical life makes room for the complexity of the mental life.

The numbers

The lessons

  • I’m at my happiest when I’m exploring, whether that’s new ideas, projects or places.
  • Learning new things every day inspires and excites me, although it often leads to too many new things to explore.
  • Even if I never finish anything, that’s ok (but I should improve my processes to try to finish things).
  • Realised that mainstream is not for me. Life is better on the edge.

NFT’s as metamodern art form. Or, why NFT’s are way more interesting than they seem.

NFTs are a divisive subject. They currently divide the world population into four. The vast majority of people who don’t care or have never even heard of NFT’s, a very small percentage who think NFT’s are revolutionizing the art world, another very small percentage who think NFT’s are pointless and wasteful, and an extremely small percentage of artists who are exploring this new artistic frontier. New art has always been divisive (Impressionism, Cubism, etc.). And the scale of the division about NFT’s is itself extremely interesting, and one that is only possible because of the modern information communication technologies like Twitter. It is no longer possible to separate art and technology, either as an artist, a collector, or a viewer. Technology is an unavoidable, undeniable aspect of creating and experiencing art. NFT’s are part of that, for better or worse.

The uninteresting side of NFT’s

NFT’s mean lots of different things to lots of different people, and tendency of those in either of the small populations mentioned above is to always defend their position. Fine. Uninteresting, but fine. So before we get into the real art of NFT’s, let’s quickly cover the uninteresting (from an artistic perspective) mainstream aspects; commercialisation, motivation and aesthetics, for those two small percentages.

The commercialisation of works of art through the use of blockchain technology plays out in the same way as any market economy. It’s subject to the same underlying principles with the few rich getting richer and the majority poor getting poorer. That’s the same no matter what technology underpins the market. NFT’s as a means to buy, trade and demonstrate ownership of works of art/fairly-mundane-imagery-with-lots-of-hype-associated-with-it doesn’t and cannot change that.

The motivations for buying art, whether at an auction house or on an NFT marketplace, haven’t changed either. It continues to be about status (owning art) and money (investing in art) whether bidding on a Monet painting or Bored Ape jpg. This also will not change because of new technology.

The aesthetics of mainstream collectible NFTs have already reached a dominant design pattern. They are used as profile pictures to indicate identity with a certain group of others, often referencing other cultural aesthetics such as comic books or computer games, and often visually unique within a given set of parameters. Whether this aesthetic is your aesthetic isn’t really the point. If you like a certain aesthetic and enjoy looking at that kind of art, you can do so with or without NFT’s.

This side of NFT’s, the mainstream as it were, is where most of the attention goes, but it is far less interesting than the creative and artistic exploration that they provide for artists.

NFT as a metamodern art form

NFT’s provide the perfect expression of a metamodern art form and subject of artistic exploration. Not just each individual NFT recorded on a blockchain, but NFT’s as a subject, a form, a cultural artifact, as a metamodern artistic sensibility that…

… oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naiveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity.

-Vermeulen and van den Akker.

The division of opinion that NFT’s create is in itself a postmodern stance, but for metamodern artists it becomes an expression of oscillation. The role NFT’s play in the cultural zeitgeist swings from extreme to extreme depending on who you talk to. The NFT isn’t the art, the art is the NFT. Art and technology cannot be separated and so for this art, technology provides form and function, context and content, subject and situation.

Even mainstream NFT artwork has already demonstrated a cultural stake in many of Greg Dember’s metamoden methods:

Hyper-self-reflexivity – the idea that people’s identities are constructed quite self-consciously through a narrative lens. NFT’s as status symbol and profile picture demonstrate that knowing identity construction done both unironically and connectively. As unique images, these NFT profile pictures reference the individuality of the owner, whilst at the same claiming their belonging to a group of holders of similar images and in reinforcing their self-claimed identity as early adopters of the trend.

Double-framing – the temporary trapping of the viewer between an outer frame of the “real world” and an inner frame of the narrative of the artwork. The viewer is in a space where they are able to engage unironically with the hype and of the “NFT world” whilst still remaining grounded in the reality of the realisation that NFT’s are purely virtual. This double-framing of the opinions those two small percentages held in opposition of each other is particularly of interest to artists, because it creates a space where both can exist together and boundaries can be explored through double-framing.

Constructive Pastiche – the potentially constructive juxtaposing of seemingly disparate elements, from historically separated genres and/or cultures. The jpg’s we see in mainstream NFT art often combines disparate elements from various cultural and historic reference points. Intentionally or not, they create a space for cultural iconography that doesn’t fit into it’s originating culture or history but instead combines to become a different experience.

Oscillation – a way of engaging two oppositional factors without them cancelling each other out, nor landing in the average zone between them. In fact never landing, always moving. Art that explores any kind of emerging technology such as NFT’s could never land on a single position for the landscape shifts too quickly and suddenly.

Perhaps the confusion and division around NFT’s comes from looking at this most metamodern art form from a modernist or postmodernist perspective.

Some exploration of onchain art

My own exploration into the constantly oscillating world of onchain art has been via stiles, of all things. My work constructively pastiches genres – British landscape art, conceptual art, art/life movement – and oscillates between the physical and digital worlds. It tries to explore the relationship between, and understand a world made up of, all of these things, and usually through decidedly uncultural objects.

Before stiles, there were other works of a similar theme. #FloorsIveWalkedOn created abstract patterns through photographs of floors I had walked on. This work explored presence and place, bridging the physical place and the lasting presence in the digital world. This work isn’t on the blockchain, it exists only on Instagram. At the time, that was enough. Had I been interested in displaying art in the physical world I might have printed lino floor coverings of all the floors I had walked on for others to walk on. But instead my work went the other way, becoming more virtual.

Stiles.style collects images of stiles from the British landscape into a unique collection of unique objects. Stiles are one of the few objects left in the modern world that are hand-made by different people all across the country but following a similar design pattern. Each stile is unique. And they are gradually disappearing form the British countryside. To photograph stiles is one way to preserve them in virtual form. To create a token on the blockchain that represents the photo of the stile creates an even more virtual, more abstract, preservation of a stile. And doing so asks questions. Is uniqueness tied to physical form? How much of a real object is lost when it becomes a digital photo or a string of numbers? What happens when there are no more of those real objects left in the real world and they only exist in virtual form? What effect does it have on our culture to digitise everything from the real world?

NFT’s are more than jpgs on the blockchain. They open up an entirely new cultural space for artists to explore. NFT’s are, at once, the form, subject, context and environment of art, through which artists can explore themes around ownership, the physical and digital worlds, the hype of new technology, and so many more. So, the small percentages can continue to argue from their mainstream positions, and meanwhile the artists will explore the breadth and depth of the virtual, blockchain and NFT landscapes.

Why you should have a public roadmap

Public roadmaps are used by organisations to show users and customers what they are working on now and in the future. They are a great way to show openness and transparency to build trust with an audience that is interested in their work, and to demonstrate commitment to listening to customers and improving products and services now and in the future.

If a product is a promise of value then a roadmap is a promise of a product increasing in value over time, but customers only gain that value if the roadmap is public.

Why have a public roadmap

A public roadmap is a sign of internet-era thinking and ways of working. Almost more important than what is on it, its existence is an indicator of a modern digital organisation. It shows customers, potential and actual, suppliers and others in the same industry or sector, or in fact anyone interested, that the traditional boundaries between a company and everything outside of it are becoming more porous and that it is a positive thing.

As yet, I haven’t found any example of an organisation making the actual roadmap that they use to prioritise and manage product work public. They all seem to have created separate versions of roadmaps in order to make those public whilst using other internal tools, but its still a step in the right direction.

Some product leaders caution against public roadmaps as revealing to competitors what the organisation is working on, or making commitments to customers that they might not be able to keep. These seem to suggest other issues that organisations need to resolve rather than reasons to not have a public roadmap, but it is important to understand the positives and negatives of a public roadmap before going ahead but then do it anyway.

Benefits of public roadmaps

Clarity

Encourages you to make your roadmap clear enough for a wider audience to understand. Anyone looking at your roadmap should be able to make assumptions about your organisational priorities by the work you have in progress and coming up. This forces you to establish those priorities clearly enough internally in order to express them clearly enough externally.

Commitment

Shows your audience and customers that you are committed to continuing to meet their needs over the long term. Customers wanting a long-term, ongoing relationship with your products can look at a public roadmap showing them how they can get increased value over time to help them decide whether to invest time and money in it.

Community

Builds a community around your products. Only those people who are really interested in the product and its development will be interested in its roadmap. These are your thousand true fans. Nurturing them, understanding what problems they have and how your product solves them better than anything else, will help to keep your product direction true.

Examples of public roadmaps

Github

Organised by what is expected to ship in each quarter, Github uses a Github Project Board (unsurprisingly) for their roadmap. The items are described in technical language but given that Github’s users are technically-minded they are likely to understand what ‘Audit log API on GHAE and GHES’ means, this seems appropriate. Each item on the board can be opened to see more details, including ‘Intended outcome’, which is a nice way of bridging between the timeline view of the board and the outcome-focused drivers of the work. Each item also has labels which are clickable to show all items tagged with, for example, ‘Security and compliance’. A user that has a particular interest in all the features that are related to security and compliance can get a view of all the work Github is doing about that.

Microsoft

Microsoft uses an in-house tool for their public roadmap. Not surprising given the complexity of a single roadmap for displaying information about more than forty products across ten platforms and twelve release phases. The roadmap tool allows users to filter the whole view to see items about specific products and what status that item has; ‘In development’, ‘Rolling out’, or ‘Launched’. The roadmap seems aimed at admin business users of Microsoft products who are responsible to understanding when a new feature is released so their organisation can adopt it, which makes the information in the roadmap more logistical than serving to express the vision and direction of the products.

Buffer

Buffer’s public roadmap uses Trello and includes four columns of ‘Exploring’, ‘In progress’, ‘Done’ and ‘Leaving it for now’. People are allowed to comment and vote on the feature, perhaps as a means of validating the need and prioritising the work. The labels suggest some strategic themes to link work together with users being able to use them to filter the board. Buffer’s use of Trello, a simple tool that most digital knowledge workers will be familiar with, shows that they want to be more transparent with their customers and inform them about the product development work.

RNID

RNID’s public roadmap is organised by quarters and with sections ‘We’re discovering’ and ‘We’re delivering’ in each quarter. The work described is phased as outcomes for people using their products and services, for example ‘People can check their hearing online and find next steps to get support.’ but doesn’t connect that work to strategy, most likely because that isn’t the purpose of the roadmap which seems to be more about showing progress.

GOV.UK

The UK Government’s public roadmap, underpinned by it’s tenth design principle, Make things open: it makes things better, shows work across six programmes and in three columns, ‘Recently shipped’, ‘Working on now’ and ‘Exploring’. The items on the roadmap describe work at a level that would be given to a cross-functional team that would be able to, ‘Design and test a new design for the GOV.UK homepage’, rather than breaking the work down functionally or describing a feature.

Roadmap

Roadmap builds roadmap software, which they also use for their public roadmap. The roadmap section is divided into ‘In progress’, ‘Soon’, and ‘Future’, but also has sections for Launched and Ideas. The tool has functionality to allow customers to vote on features but doesn’t seem to include any detailed information or connect to outcomes or strategy.

Trends in public roadmaps

There are two clear trends in the above examples; tools and text. Four of the examples use a tool for managing and displaying their roadmap which allows viewers some functionality such as filtering. All four of these examples are providing software products so perhaps their audience is more technical and more interested in which features are shipping when. The two text based roadmaps are arguably easier for viewers to read and understand, which fits with the expected (non-technical) audience for a charity or a government.

All of the roadmaps attempt to present a picture of the product work in a ‘past’, ‘present’, ‘future’ way, but don’t seem to tackle the problem of representing the current state of the product. Perhaps that’s just the nature of how we approach roadmaps or perhaps the expectation is that the live product does that itself.

Should you have an open roadmap?

For your organisation? For your projects? For yourself? Yes. Yes. Yes. Public roadmaps are a good thing. They make us consider what we put out into the world, and how others will understand it. They help us think big about what we want to achieve, and act specifically in order to achieve it. They clarify our thinking and show our commitment to making things better.

What’s the difference between a Prototype and Pilot?

Both are risk mitigation techniques that involve taking ideas, products and services outside the organisation to get feedback from real users, but where prototyping and piloting differ is when they are used in the product development process.

Prototypes

Prototypes are used during the design phase to test ideas and potential solutions before investing time and money in building a product or service. Prototypes can range in fidelity and focus. They can present a single aspect of a product or multiple parts of a service experience depending on what the research seeks to learn.

Pilots

Pilots are used during the delivery phase of a product to trial with real users in order to find the most common service breakdowns and those that will lead to the majority of customer complaints and dissatisfaction. Pilots help to understand these failures and identify which should be resolved before the product or service launches.

Always start a side-project with a domain name

Always start a side-project with a domain name. Use it to help validate ideas in the short-term but get the benefits in the long-term as your project develops.

1 Redirect it to another website

  • Quick and easy to set up
  • Share the link and get brand awareness
  • Lose your brand once clicked

Example: ultimatedigital.tools redirects to a Gumroad page

2 Custom domain on a third-party platform

  • Get some functionality (e.g., email sign-up)
  • Keep your brand when clicked
  • Limited design and functionality

Example: futureskills.info uses a Mailerlite landing page.

3 Address for a website

  • Lots more functionality
  • Lots more control over design and branding
  • Costs more time and money

Example: rogerswannell.com uses WordPress.

As a project develops and needs more functionality you can move the domain name onto other platforms and take the brand awareness with you and any links will still work.

Whichever way your project goes, you keep the benefits of having used the same domain name throughout.

The reasoning behind the roadmap

There’s more to creating a product roadmap than putting boxes on a diagram. To create effective roadmaps you need to understand the logic that applies behind the boxes.

Product roadmapping uses deductive reasoning. It starts with a theory, sets a hypothesis, and then makes observations to prove or disprove the hypothesis, and so deduce conclusions from things proposed by the theory.

Products start with the ‘subjective theory of value‘. It states that value is determined by the importance an individual places on a good for the achievement of desired ends.

When we talk about products meeting user needs or outcomes, we’re talking about the subjective theory of value. It says users value meeting their needs more than they value the money the product costs, that’s why they pay.

Next we set hypotheses to test the theory. It could be ‘releasing new feature X will meet user need Y and users will pay Z for it’. We might show this on a roadmap as ‘Feature X’ but really we’re expressing the hypothesis.

When we measure how well that feature is performing we are conducting observations to prove or disprove the hypothesis. If we get feedback that the feature is meeting the need and that users are willing to pay for it, then we’ve proved our hypothesis correct.

We use deductive reasoning for roadmapping because it closely follows the path of logic and has advantages:

  1. Explains causal relationships between concepts and variables.
  2. Measures concepts quantitatively.
  3. Generalises findings to a certain extent.

Concepts are abstract ideas like ‘paying’ and a variable might be ‘price’. Deductive reasoning helps us understand the relationship between the price, which we can change, and the how likely users are to pay that price.

We can measure a concept like ‘paying’ quantitatively by observing how many users pay and how much they pay. This helps us understand the concept more objectively and build theory off of it.

Deductive approaches allow “reasoning from the general to the particular” (Pelissier, 2008) meaning that what we can link premises in the theory with conclusions from our observations.

So, roadmaps are more than just a diagram of features, they are a means to bring the discipline of deductive reasoning to product management and to express the hypotheses that we use to test theories.