Many companies truly aspire to be innovative. They talk about driving innovation, or delivering on the promise of innovation, or speeding innovation. Yet, trying to be innovative – regardless of how compelling the case and the rhetoric – without an execution plan tied to strategy, is a huge roadblock to success. Although a product line roadmap paves the way (had enough of the highway metaphors yet?!), most companies have struggled to implement a truly comprehensive roadmapping practice. However, those involved with innovation planning are increasingly understanding the benefits of product line roadmapping and it appears that this critical front-end process has finally come of age.
More than half of the survey respondents in the Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Study reported that their “product portfolios are not aligned well enough with company strategies and objectives, creating numerous pain points that include ineffective decision-making (53%).” A product line roadmap aligns product portfolios to the company strategy and is the execution plan used to ensure that innovation investments are properly assigned and supported.
The roadmap is a foundational component of the strategic planning process that can “foster innovation by forecasting the elements needed to address future technological needs or market demands.” Taking on the commitment to cross-departmental product line roadmapping aligns vision and informs decision making – particularly when it comes to what to innovate; when; how…those key questions that need answering. It also enables flexibility. When you know where you’re going and why, it is much easier to wisely select the right detours when needed and to know how and when to get back on the planned track. (Honestly, those last two driving references were unintentional.)
Read the recent InnovationManagement.se article “Informing Innovation Planning through Product Line Roadmapping” to dive into this topic (or should I say to “take this journey” with us so that we can truly over indulge in the metaphors?!) and discover why the time is right for your organization to put this critical practice into place.
 Maureen Carlson, “The Results Are In: Product Leaders Report a Need for Speed and a Roadmap to Sustainable Innovation,” http://innovationmanagement.se/2013/11/18/the-results-are-in-product-leaders-report-a-need-for-speed-and-a-roadmap-to-sustainable-innovation/, accessed 02/03/2014
 Bryan Seyfarth, “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Process of Roadmapping,” http://inknowvations.com/frequently-asked-questions-regarding-the-process-of-roadmapping/, accessed 02/03/2014