What do you think about project-based roadmaps versus outcome-based (metric-based) roadmaps?

A hypothetical outcomes-based roadmap for Netflix at the beginning of 2022.

“David Cancel, CEO of Drift and one-time VP Product for Hubspot, called roadmaps a no-win scenario. He said to me: “Either I’m going to disappoint you by giving you exactly what we thought six months ahead of time was the best solution when it’s not, or by changing course and having lied to you.”

An outcome-based roadmap describes the path to a successful product in terms of the problems to be solved to achieve the desired results. This approach provides context to product decisions and allows you to plan further out than you can actually see in terms of features and dates.

It also encourages you to avoid committing to particular solutions to these problems too early, before you’ve done enough discovery, design, and experimentation to know if those solutions will actually work.

A lot of product teams complain that their roadmap, backlog, or other priority list keeps changing. The problems in your market probably don’t change that quickly, but your approach to solving them is something you should continually optimize based on what you learn. So if your roadmap is about problems to solve — which is the focus of outcomes-based roadmaps — it can be the steady light guiding you toward success.”

Netflix Product Strategy (w/ Project-based Roadmap)

“I’m confident about each of the projects in the upcoming quarter, but my assumption is that we will learn so much this quarter, that our future plans will change. So think of this roadmap as a fuzzy plan of how things might play out. The roadmap helps the organization to understand how projects fit together and evolve. Making guesses about the future also helps my engineering partners anticipate potential long lead-time projects.

The Outcome-Based Roadmap

What do I think?

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