Road Map = Vision + Action Plan

In 1987, Dr Mary Lippitt, founder and president of Enterprise Management, Ltd., copyrighted (however did not publish) “The Managing Complex Change” model. Mary’s model includes a list of elements:  Vision, Skills, Incentive, Resources, Action Plan (VSIRA), she reasons that without one of these elements then you are more likely to not succeed with the change. (Note: I’m not sure about the copyright bits here, and others have been sued before so I won’t publish the model – but it’s fairly easy to search for.)

A road map is simply an action plan with a vision.  A well-thought-out road map can help with your change management endeavours. The key to a good road map is the vision or goal (

Mary’s model shows that if you have skills, incentives, resources and an action plan but you don’t have a vision or goal you will create confusion as you won’t have that guiding force to refer back to while doing the work.

If you have the vision, skills, incentive and resources, but no action plan you will end up with false starts or work being done in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The combination of skills (i.e. communication, technical skills, knowledge), incentives (rewards, recognition, celebrations) and resourcing (money, time, equipment, etc.) can be represented as “Good Team Practices”.

A road map only isn’t going to successfully change your team’s practices – but it might make the lack of one or all of these elements more clear. For example, if an initiative on the road map clearly requires skills that the team does not have, or a team size larger than the current, or that will diverge from the teams personal KPIs and incentives, then the likelihood of success will diminish greatly.

The combination of a well-thought-out road map and good team practices will greatly increase the chances of success.

As a product manager, the change that you are trying to accomplish can be represented as a “Successful Product Development” – whatever that means for your product. This isn’t suggesting that the product will be a commercial success – that is up to you and your team to get right – instead, that the combination of a well-thought-out road map and good team practices will greatly increase the chances of successfully developing the product the road map’s vision is illustrating.

What is NOT a road map?

Road maps are an important part to strategy. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to figure the future of your company, your product, your team or your life – a road map is important to helping your keep track of your goals and the initatives and activities needed to achieve them.

The book Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams By Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, Nate Walkingshaw, outlines what is not a road map:

  • It is not a release plan—leave out specific dates and timelines.
  • It is not a list of features and/or components, nor should it include job stories, user stories, or “jobs to be done”; these are too granular for a road-map.
  • It is not a commitment. It is a living guide that reacts to new information
  • It is not one monolithic document. Given that we argue for small, autonomous, cross-functional teams focused on specific areas of the product there should be a road map per team.
  • A successful road map is not a Gantt chart.   Waterfall connections (dependencies) won’t work for this level of planning.

So why is it that so many guides and software packages (either desktop or online) make you create road maps that have timelines and/or look like gantt charts?

There had to be a better, simpler way – and there is.

This is why I created Munro Maps.