A crazy, better kind of roadmap

One thing led to another today and a feature request from support got me thinking about how we do product management internally. It led to a little spike that I thought I'd share.

It's hard to have a consensus about the state of the product because we all track different issues and different feature ideas in different places and different ways. We solved this issue when we do feature development by making a map of the scopes and tracking them in lists. Is there a way we could have a kind of "canonical reference" that is an overview of the whole product as we see it right now, with pain points and opportunities called out?

A crazy idea came to mind that I had to spike. I imagined the whole product projected onto a map, with pins stuck in the areas where we need to fix something or want to change something.

A metaphor for representing our most valued ideas product-wide. 3.31 MB View full-size Download

Imagining a map of Basecampland, with pins in the problem spots (this is fake, made in Photoshop) 6.6 MB View full-size Download

I sketched one quick on the iPad. The idea is real, navigable areas in the app (e.g. To-Dos section) are depicted as places where an improvement would be made.

Basecamp land with a few issues indicated 343 KB View full-size Download

What's unique about this concept is it turns the idea of a roadmap 90ยบ. Roadmaps are about what you're going to do when. Time is the main factor. This cartoon uses space as the main organizing principle.

Three types of issues are called out:

  • Brand burn. This is something where you get bitten and it makes you hate Basecamp. Things that embarrass you, break privacy expectations, lose data, etc.
  • Pain point. A burn that matters but is less tarnishing. Eg problems resending invitations, RSVP issues, making the same project all the time before Templates.
  • Win to unlock. Non-consumption, things people aren't complaining about but they will be very glad about. Eg more check-in date/time options. Ability to assign a project to a person. The HQ/Teams/Projects split.

Suppose you could click any of those "pins." You'd get detail on that thing ... maybe jump to a pitch or a to-do on a bugs list.

Pin detail 406 KB View full-size Download

I acknowledge this is a little crazy but it's also kind of awesome. I'm not going to spend more time on it but I will be thinking about ways to implement something like this in my off time. The idea of a roadmap in space (not time) that gives us a shared overview could be really powerful.