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Stop Confusing Your Product Roadmap With Your Release Plan

Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers
Hello fellow punks! 
Welcome to the 20 of you who have signed up for this since the last issue. It’s great to have you on board. Hopefully you’ll stick with me while I figure out what this newsletter is all about.
Here’s this week’s issue ⬇️

Where we’re going we don’t need dates…
There are few things that can get a product manager riled up as much as telling them they need to put dates and milestones on their roadmap. 
A couple of days ago, I posted this tweet which re-ignited the whole roadmap / delivery plan argument in the replies:
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Your product roadmap isn't a release plan.
My friend Andrea Saez nails it when she says your roadmap should set your direction and intention, while your release plan should detail what you’re planning to deliver (and when). 
Like ProdPad founder (and inventor of the Now/Next/Later roadmap) Janna Bastow explains:
Janna Bastow
Remember, your roadmap is not meant to be a perfect plan of everything you're doing.

✨Your roadmap is a prototype for your product strategy.

It's meant to change as you learn more, and a lean roadmap format gives you that flexibility.
Roadmaps are places for questions and ideas—for experiments you want to undertake to try and move your product forward. 
They’re not the place for statements like “release feature X in Q3.”
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
Your product roadmap isn't a promise signed in blood for your exec team.

It's your current best guess of the work you need to do to move you closer to your product vision.
As a product manager, you can’t avoid dates completely. There will always be external pressures on you to deliver. 
Often, though, it’s because your stakeholders don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve.
Use your roadmap to contextualise your current, near-term and long-term objectives in a way that gives everyone confidence you’re on the right path. 
And save the dates for the work you’ve committed to delivering in the next one or two release cycles. 
Anything more than that is fantasy.
What I've been reading 📚
As a product manager, you need to build a toolbox of mental models to help you make decisions.
One of the most flexible and useful I’ve found is John Boyd’s OODA Loop.
Developed as a way to help fighter pilots win in aerial combat, it’s perfect for helping you deal with the chaos and uncertainty of building digital products ✈
The OODA Loop: How Fighter Pilots Make Fast and Accurate Decisions - Farnam Street
Finding product market fit and growing a new SaaS is hard so it can help to learn from people who’ve done it already.
Analytics startup Plausible Analytics is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics that has grown to $1m ARR after launching paid subscriptions back in 2019.
This article explains how they did it 💰
How we built a $1M ARR open source SaaS | Plausible Analytics
Product management is a creative role. To be successful, you’ve got to have ideas.
If you want to have innovative ideas, though, you’ve got to think about the information you’re paying attention to. If everything you read is coming from an algorithmic feed, then you’re missing out on ideas that can really sharpen your creativity.
This article from last year talks about the value of paying attention to offbeat things 🥁
Rewilding your attention. To find truly interesting ideas, step… | by Clive Thompson | UX Collective
What I've been writing ✍️
Another toolbox you’ll need as a product manager is one for the digital tools you need to help get the job done.
Here are ten of my favourites 🧰
Toby Rogers 🚀🤘
10 tools every product manager should know:
That’s it! 
See you next week (probably). 
Toby 
The Punk PM 
P.S. Feel free to share this with anyone else you think would find it interesting.
I’m still playing around with ideas for content and format for this newsletter, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and shoot me an email with ways you think I can make it better.
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Toby Rogers
Toby Rogers @tobiasrogers

Product management musings from your favourite Punk PM

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