One of the issues with a startup is that you have so many opportunities and so little time. This is overwhelming, and can lead you to pursue opportunities that fall in your lap, or that your squeaky wheel customers offer up, rather than thinking strategically about where you want to go and how best to get there. This is heightened by the ‘everything is on fire’ feeling that arises occasionally.
At The Food Corridor, we just spent two days roadmapping (we being The Food Corridor team and the OTL Ventures team). Normally I’m not a fan of meetings. I find they often are synchronous status information transfer that could be better handled via email or slack. As an aside, here is a great post on running a meeting.
But this roadmapping meeting was great. The team was all in the same room and spent the first day brainstorming opportunities (with no limits on the feasibility of the suggestions, but some guardrails around focus). The second day we ranked all opportunities according to positive impact and effort required (both in a number of dimensions). As you can imagine, these were two long days. However, the outcome is a list of high impact, low effort opportunities.
However, I feel the real value isn’t in the list, which will be so long that it won’t be accomplished in the next two years, let alone by the next roadmapping session is scheduled. There were two main items that came out that I found really valuable.
First, that were discussions with all relevant parties about real issues in the business. Sometimes we get so busy delivering that we don’t pop our heads up and see the bigger picture. As all imperfect products do, The Food Corridor causing some pain for our customers. (If you work on an imperfect product, please let me know as I’d love to see one.) These pain points were front and center during the discussion, and we had people from multiple different functional areas opine on the problem and possible solutions.
There was also a ton of value in creating shared alignment. As I watch this business be built I am astonished at how much time and effort needs to be spent making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction. When I ran a business on my own (as a solo consultant) or when I am an employee, the focus is usually on what I’m doing “in the business”–the day to day execution of tasks to provide the services the company sells. As a co-founder, I’m seeing how important it is to get everyone agreeing on the highest value opportunities–highest value for the business, not necessarily the most exciting or highest value for each individual. This alignment needs to happen with incentives, meetings and communication. The just completed roadmapping session felt like it really achieved that shared alignment.
By the way, if you are a software product company in the northern front range and feel like you could benefit from more team alignment, I’d highly recommend contacting the folks at OTL and pursuing this. Not affiliated, just a happy customer.