The Shift from 5 Year Roadmaps to “Iterative Roadmapping”

by

Recently, I was grabbing coffee with a close friend of mine, and we were discussing the future of his small business, as well as the next steps he should take to stay ahead of the competition. During our discussion, we touched on vertical integration opportunities, technological enhancements to scale efficiency, and a host of other variables that could impact his already successful business.

By the end of our two-hour coffee session, we had come up with 3-5 long-term technology ideas that he could start pursuing immediately. But, as we were leaving, he said something that was very interesting: “These ideas are great, but by the time I implement them, there will be newer technologies to replace them, and I’ll just have to pivot again in a year or two.”

He was right, in today’s technological landscape, technology is moving so fast that companies have to review their strategy far more often than they used to. After mulling on this for a bit, I realized what he had said was very powerful, so I began reading blogs and speaking to other entrepreneurs about their thoughts on 5-year IT road mapping.

Here are a couple of those blogs:

My initial thought was that 5-year roadmaps were only dead for small businesses, but after talking recently with the CIO of a very large eCommerce company, I’ve come to realize that it’s really no different for larger businesses; executives’ biggest problems shift as technology shifts. This makes 5-year planning much more difficult.

Twenty years ago, IT used to sit in the basement and had limited power to influence their company’s business decisions. But now, IT is in the forefront and companies need to understand and utilize their capabilities in order to survive.

When this shift first began to happen, I imagine that asking for a 5-year IT roadmap was an easier request because the pace at which technology was changing was a bit steadier than it is today. Companies were signing longer term deals for hardware and software which made it easier to plan for the next wave of technology changes. Today, technology is moving so fast that these roadmaps need to be updated every few months, which begs the question: are these 5-year roadmaps truly dead?

And the answer is yes. To be clear, strategic, high-level roadmapping is still needed to understand the fundamental principles and vision of a company; however, the way to reach those goals changes rapidly. Internally, many companies have already made the shift without even thinking about it. Business and IT teams are now meeting far more frequently than ever before in order to understand what’s coming over the horizon and what’s being done to prepare. They are constantly iterating their plans and reviewing their ideas to see if they still make sense.

So, maybe it’s time for us to kill the term “5-year roadmap” and rename it for what it actually is: “Iterative Roadmapping.”

READ MORE

Why Keeping It Real Is a Winning Strategy

Why Keeping It Real Is a Winning Strategy

If I had to sum up my pandemic year, I might say it was the year I got to spend each day of an entire summer with my daughter. It was also the year that I significantly altered my career path by taking the brilliant advice of my coach: to lead with my values (keep it...

read more
Meaningful Brand Maturity vs. Promotional Box Checking

Meaningful Brand Maturity vs. Promotional Box Checking

Featuring: Errika Flood-Moultrie Diversity. Equity. Inclusion (DEI). Individually, each word packs its own unique punch, but together, this lineup represents something much greater — profound even — and that is true head and heart transformation. As a people-first,...

read more
Why Does Change Management Keep Getting Put in Time Out?

Why Does Change Management Keep Getting Put in Time Out?

Buzzword Soup, Anyone? If I use words like “Transformation” or “Change Management” in a meeting, everyone nods like they get it. But in reality, there are usually as many understandings of those terms as there are people around the table. In today’s soup of ambiguous...

read more
Moving Forward From the Home Office

Moving Forward From the Home Office

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve gone into an office five days a week. In that time, I’ve progressed in my consulting career from a Senior Manager, to a Principal, to a VP, to a Managing Partner, to a CEO. I barely remember what it’s like to “go to work” and to...

read more
The Leadership Dog Years

The Leadership Dog Years

As a business leader, I feel like I’ve been living in dog years — so much has happened that this year feels more like seven. In the spring, our company — like many others — had to throw out our annual plans and quickly pivot to new ones. In the summer, we increased...

read more