Strategic Alignment & The Negative Roadmap
Being 100% aligned enables us to completely focus on delivering the prioritised objectives.
Initially we struggled to get strategic alignment on objectives. The approach outlined below helps us to achieve total unambiguous clarity.
Align senior leaders
We formed a strategy squad. This includes our co-founders, and the leaders of product, engineering, operations, marketing and sales. Every three months this squad collaboratively agrees the objectives for the entire business. This includes the product and engineering roadmap.
At Joyous we don't sell features as part of the sales process. We also don't sell on the promise of our roadmap. We only sell the product we have. Because of this we don't need to rush work to meet deadlines set by sales conversations.
This allows us to focus on the things that will make the biggest impact to all our customers, and allows us to build quality code.
Positive & negative roadmaps
A concise bullet point describes an objective at this level, which we place on a positive roadmap.
We put important items that we are not doing onto a negative roadmap. This was a game changer for us. It means that there is no room for ambiguity, nor overloading.
We are either doing something, or we are not. We cannot stress enough how helpful this has been. If there's one thing you take away from this book, make it the negative roadmap.
Too often teams waste precious time and energy struggling with alignment. Using a negative roadmap has completely changed the game for us.
Stay focused and build quality code
If something big crops up - the strategy squad decides the priority together. Nothing slips in without consensus. It either goes onto the negative roadmap, or onto the positive roadmap. If it goes onto the positive roadmap, something else needs to come off.
We will respectfully say no to feature requests that are not aligned with our purpose.
We have a simple way to prioritise smaller items separately from the large objectives. Once a week we consider and prioritise a few items.
In the past I have seen many things cause a product to head in the wrong direction. I've seen products become terrifyingly complex, or appear stagnant to customers.
There are no separate resources set aside for tech debt. As part of doing the feature work we strive to build the best solution possible. This includes fixing any tech debt. We don't always get this right, but we are always improving the code base.