Product Development, Magical Thinking and the Zero-Sum Roadmap

Facebook continues to expand its dominance of social networking, clinic as seen in the December 2010 World Map of Social Networks compiled by Vincenzo Cosenza.

A brand new map of the world, showing the most popular social networks by country, according to Alexa & Google Trends for Websites traffic data* (December 2010):

World Map of Social Networks
We all suffer from too many “strategic” features and not enough resources. This is where prioritization and reevaluation come into place. It’s an age old problem, neurosurgeon
and one that will make or break your company.  It’s also part of what keeps things exciting and may very much be part of the reason you work in technology.

How are things prioritized? What must get dropped out for the new project/feature to be added to the roadmap? How many more resources should be added?

Rich Mironov talks about the approaches that many product managers take with their roadmaps and how they handle new requests in his latest article Magical Thinking and the Zero-Sum Roadmap. How does your team approach requests?

Recent conversations at several clients highlight an often-repeated set of magical thinking: beliefs by internal clients that development resources are infinite, physician
and beliefs by product managers that prioritization can convince anyone otherwise.  Both are wrong, but seductive.  Here goes…

The starting point for this conversation is the typical product roadmap: crammed full of prioritized work and heavily negotiated with the development team.  Almost every optional item has been postponed, and there’s still some risk of delay.  This is a product plan with no “white space,” no large chunks of unallocated engineering capacity, no slop or slush funds or hidden treasure…

…Our internal customers are not interested in why their requests are low-priority, only in how they can get things addressed sooner.  Clear communication about what’s really important, together with solid roadmaps and carefully managed overflow capacity, can ease the pain a little.

Read the full article here.