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.
  • Articulate Netflix’s current strategy, concluding with a project-based roadmap, then
  • Transform the project-based roadmap into an outcome-based roadmap (based on some coaching from Bruce).

Netflix Product Strategy (w/ Project-based Roadmap)

If I were the product leader at Netflix today, here are the slides I would share at an all-hands meeting to help the company understand the product strategy. (These slides are illustrative, so please don’t buy/sell Netflix stock based on these guesstimates — I have no insider knowledge today.)

The Outcome-Based Roadmap

Outcome-based roadmaps provide a different approach to navigating the implied commitment of a roadmap but still let you tell a story about how things might play out over time.

  • Project-based roadmaps present their hypotheses — product strategies — while outcome-based roadmaps express “the problem to be solved,” communicated using customer language. (I think this is a nice touch, as it brings the customer’s voice into the mix.)
  • Outcome-based roadmaps reiterate the proxy metrics from my “SMT” model and position them as “leading indicators.” For both, the assumption is that the metrics are meaningful, but you don’t know exactly which projects will move them.
  • Outcome-based roadmaps avoid a specific quarter-by-quarter plan and instead use the phrases, “Now, Next, & Consider.”

What do I think?

First, a big shout-out to Bruce McCarthy for helping me understand outcome-based roadmaps and for illustrating the differences between them and project-based roadmaps.

  • Roadmaps are an expression of your product strategy. Whether you create a project or outcome-based roadmap, you need to do the heavy lifting of figuring out your product strategy first. Defining your product strategy doesn’t begin with a roadmap — it ends with it. (I articulate my step-by-step process to define a product strategy in this Medium essay.)
  • Roadmaps are a story-telling tool. They help the company understand how projects fit together and how your product might evolve. They articulate what you feel is important and the metrics you use to determine both customer and shareholder value.

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Gibson Biddle

Gibson Biddle

Former VP/CPO at Netflix/Chegg. Now speaker, teacher, & workshop host. Learn more here: www.gibsonbiddle.com or here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbiddle/