16 December 2015

An Eye on the Future

How can we plan for a successful future?

As we approach the end of another year, we all begin the process of reflecting on what the past year has brought and start thinking about what we hope to achieve next year. As you look back on your personal struggles and how to overcome them, companies are also looking to re-evaluate their current projects and get their budgets straight for a successful new year.

Personally, I love this time of the year and especially love helping companies plan for their future efforts. There’s a handy approach that I like to follow that I read about on the great Intercom blog some time ago. They called it the 666 Roadmap. I’m guessing the name alone gets you interested. It got mine! Fortunately, it’s not about making a deal with the devil, but IS about a great way to plan for success.

How the 666 Roadmap Works

Think about your current products from all perspectives – what do you love about them and what do you want to improve? Consider specific features that goals for your product. Where do you want your product to be in 6 weeks, 6 months, and 6 years? – There’s the 666 reference! Granted, there are some people who prefer to use 10/10/10, but I think that 10’s are a bit too long to make sense. 6 weeks is great because it lines up with a usual sprint, 6 months is the halfway point to the year, and while 6 years seems like forever – especially in the startup world – it’s still a time period that most can relate to.

6 Weeks

In most of my projects, a sprint is usually between 4 and 8 weeks. 6 weeks makes a lot of sense as it fits right in the middle of that standard period and is a great reference to see what’s critical to get done in that period. As you know, 6 weeks really is a limited amount of time. It causes you to prioritize and focus on what features need to be built and how they are going to be shipped. Consider this your high-alert to-do list.

6 months

This becomes your backlog for future sprints for smaller tasks or something that you break up into multiple sprints for larger tasks. 6 months is time to build a lot if you are well prepared, but can pass pretty quickly if you aren’t task oriented. Consider this your queue – small AND big projects fit into this and provide you with a bi-yearly goal plan.

6 years

This is a bit more tricky. It’s less of a backlog of things to be accomplished and more of a vision for the future. Considering you’ve implemented all of the changes you’ve wanted in the past 6 years, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Where is your product now? What does it do? How do your users relate to it? What do you think the biggest challenges will be 6 years from now? What kind of technology are your users using to access your service now and is that relevant to the future? Consider this the plan you need for achieving your vision.

I think this is an awesome exercise that you can use throughout the year. It forces you to think about the bigger end-goal while staying sensitive to the smaller tasks. What are your challenges in the next 6 weeks, months, and years? I’d love to hear about them so send me an email and let’s work together to a better future for ourselves and our users!