The third webinar in our #RoadmappingSeriesComposite Roadmaps – Key to Integrated Strategy, welcomed back a large number of attendees from the previous sessions. This webinar featured Sopheon’s Innovation Consulting Practice Leader, Iain King, in addition to returning guest speakers Dr. Irene Petrick and Russ Martinelli from Trendscape Innovation Group.

The emphasis of the first two webinars was on techniques for supporting roadmapping – problem finding, storytelling, external assessments, the inside-out method. In this third and final webinar in the series, Irene, Russ and Iain got to some of the nuts and bolts of how roadmapping helps create strategy that can then be depicted in a graphical way to facilitate and drive communication and discussion.

Using power points and sticky notes makes it very difficult to support sustainability and re-usability in roadmapping. Software such as Sopheon’s Accolade facilitates this sustainability over time, not only by creating “roadmaps” (the noun) but also by defining and creating “roadmapping” (the business process).

Composite, integrated roadmapping drives overall innovation performance by being a business process that primarily focuses on decision making. It aims at answering the questions: "Are we really setting a good strategic plan?” and “Do we have the right strategic context for making the decisions that will ultimately drive our innovation portfolio?"

As Iain summed up: “I think the opportunity for integrative roadmapping is that you can really drive a much stronger connection between strategic intent and execution. It allows you to be more responsive, whether it's the plans that are changing, the environment that's changing and how it impacts your current plans, or your execution that is driving impacts to your plans. Ultimately, I think being able to create composite roadmaps gives us an opportunity to really link the plans of the organization in a much more meaningful way so one can really understand impacts and consequences.”

Questions from Audience Members

The presentation was followed by live questions and answers. Here is part of the Q&A session.

Q: Is it an acceptable practice to use external information like reports and megatrends to challenge the results of an internal tech scouting team or do you have any recommendations for more effective way to go about this?

Irene: Certainly you have to question the assumptions that your personal team makes or that internal participants in your company make. The longer the people have been working at that company, the more successful your company is, the more strongly held your belief system is and the more shared that belief system is, the harder is to get some of those non-obvious trends identified. Certainly look at market reports, look at megatrends, read broadly. The one thing to consider though, is that often, particularly if you're looking to do technology transfer, some of the biggest threats are coming from places we're not even watching. If you're looking at market studies, if you're only looking at your industry, you might not capture the true disrupters that are coming.

Q: How do you build this type of roadmapping discipline into a traditional planning process where funding and resourcing decisions are made?

Irene: Of course, if roadmapping gets used in a vacuum you have wasted an opportunity. Roadmapping ideas and projects that get identified through the roadmapping process should be rationalized in the portfolio plan. They should have risk assessments and those kinds of things. They should be tied with the investment decisions. They should be tied with the funding decisions and the annualized release of resources.

If a technologist can get resources without going through the roadmapping process for a major project, then roadmapping will not be sustainable. If a technologist can continue funding his or her project that's not on the roadmap and that doesn't have an obvious insertion point and nobody notices, roadmapping tends not to be as successful. You certainly want to be linking it to your project management, your portfolio management, your investment decisions in a way that is meaningful for the control and release of resources.

Russ: I'll add to that. It really needs to be part of the strategic planning and strategic setting processes of the company which normally precede the portfolio and the pipeline process. Companies that we've seen most successfully use this are adopting it and adapting it to their strategic planning process.

Iain: Just from a software standpoint, obviously there's the opportunity, as plans on the roadmap are matured and particularly through the business canvas process that Irene and Russ have spoken about, to collect information on how individual candidate projects or programs link to plans, the resourcing and budgeting that they require, how that then fits into the overall picture of the portfolio. The software can do a very nice job of aggregating that information and feeding it back into the decision processes that I introduced earlier.

Q: Are we sure that products are actually the right dimension to understand the exploitation of technology in society and market? Nowadays we have platforms and technology product families. Single products seem to me to be very old style and sector specific.

Irene: When you think about derivatives, product 1, product 2, product 3 … that implies a product family. When you think about technology platforms, I think that implies a platform approach. What we didn't really capture and is a little bit more difficult to capture in a two dimension is the service play. What does it look like when I have platforms on which I am going to build potential solutions and I'm going to monetize them in ways where I'm Rolls-Royce selling engine time rather than selling the engine, for example. That's the part that we really don't capture in this particular slide deck. Although, increasingly, I can tell you, we are working with companies where that digital business model is what they're really aiming at.

Then the platforms that they're building are crossing multiple dimensions of digital, front office, back office, social media, technology streams, and then the big data analytics that goes with it. It's really hard to capture all of that in a single foil that that would reflect the more traditional manufacturing, but certainly we're working with companies that are doing that.

Stay tuned for more blog posts and content generated from our #RoadmappingSeries!


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