Businesses have a lot of moving parts. It’s a challenge to keep everything running in a smooth and synchronized manner in the present. It’s even a greater challenge to anticipate some future state of your business and create and align all the elements that will contribute to future success. The challenge of strategic alignment grows in complexity the farther you peer into the future and the more you see disruptive changes (new technologies, competitors, business models, regulation, deregulation, etc.) looming within your planning horizon.
Strategic roadmaps (technology, capability, product, market positioning, etc.) can help you visualize the future and get a jump on it. It’s not hard to draw a roadmap in PowerPoint, Excel or to adapt (abuse?) a project management tool to create lots of bars on a timeline. However, creating roadmaps as a separate repository of strategic knowledge that isn’t directly linked and subservient to your strategic decision management process is really bad practice (that nearly everyone does!).
Roadmaps are visualizations of decisions put to time. If you have a proven strategy decision pattern (I do), you already have the framework for building your technology, capability, product and market roadmaps. Each decision is a stable, enduring “fundamental question/issue that demands an answer/solution; the “bars” on your roadmap are the alternatives in your strategic decisions. Today’s answer (committed alternative) has a “good-for” time horizon; eventually it will succumb to technology obsolescence, changing demands or competitive pressures. You need to think today about the alternatives that you will need in the future; by doing this thinking in context of a well-framed decision (that selected today’s solution) you make it easy to score the future against the present. This keeps all your decision and roadmap data in one location, fully integrated and actionable.
Of course, fast-forwarding one decision into the future as a roadmap doesn’t solve the whole strategic alignment challenge. You need a technique to time-align the alternatives across multiple decisions. This implies some form of link between these alternatives that can be used to drive their start dates, i.e. the date on which some new technology, capability, product or business model will be available and deployed to create value.
I once worked for a defense contractor that was developing artillery fire control systems. One of the goals of these systems is to have a barrage of really powerful explosives from multiple sources converge on a single target at the same time. This gave the enemy no time to duck-and-cover; they were literally blown away before they knew what hit them. This is a simple concept, but one that takes some sophisticated real-time ballistic calculations to implement successfully. Strategic alignment is a lot like this; you’d like to have multiple new and powerful improvements to your business converge together at some future point to create a really big bang. Lobbing a few shells out there in an uncoordinated and haphazard manner won’t produce nearly the same synergy and results.
The Decision Driven® Roadmap tool within the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) is now available. It helps users interact with an integrated view of decisions and roadmaps to make the strategic alignment process simple and intuitive. I urge you to launch your journey towards strategic alignment by starting a trial of the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) today. Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.