Tales of Tech and Innovation: Jack and the Roadmap

Team sitting at table discussing strategy

Tales of Tech and Innovation: Jack and the Roadmap

Tales of Tech and Innovation: Jack and the Roadmap

Director Jack is at a loss. He comes from a marketing background but has just taken over a software platform that overlaps a half dozen departments, has tens of millions in funding, and touches tens of thousands of users. People are questioning his ability to provide technical oversight to software that is over half a million lines of code. Plus this role is something of a hot potato having been passed between a few different leaders over the last few years – with none having ended on a good note.

His conversations with management of collaborating departments are revealing some big fractures. His meetings with stakeholders in charge of delivering different aspects of the program make it clear that everyone has diverging opinions. 

Various departments contribute to program delivery but as the primary channel for engagement, the software is the face of the program. 

Yet every feature request seems to be the subject of debate – “Why does so-and-so get their feature request but I don’t get mine?” 

Informulate is the vendor partner with a full team complement assigned TechLead, 2 developers, QA and myself as Project Executive to oversee the relationship. I pitch a methodology overhaul, but it’s a hard pull. “Yes, but you don’t have domain experience,” and “I’m not sure that would work for this domain,” is what I hear. 

Flashback to a few years ago, our team had just built the software platform from scratch and were in a good cadence of delivering on requested features. Client engagement has been moving more Agile, and platform stability is high while projects are predictable. But – what is the business objective we are moving toward? 5 stakeholders would give you 5 different answers. 

It was clear that the “high value bit” is not software execution but about product management and the roadmap. 

Drawing concepts from Lean Startup and Design Thinking, we start pitching Jack for what will eventually become Innovation Governance: our framework to simplify decision-making and provide visibility to all stakeholders by pulling organizational objectives from top leaders, ideas from team members, and feedback from users. 

But would it work? Would stakeholders cede decision-making to a framework? Would executive management be open to structural changes and direct access to end users? 

Jack ponders the options and decides to roll the dice. He brings in executive management to listen to the pitch directly. After all, the current state is far from perfect. And if it doesn’t work, it’s just a vendor pitch, right?  

On our side, we feel like there is only 1 shot at this because meetings with executive management for this large enterprise are rare. They are decidedly non-technical, and we’ve only had 2 meetings with them in the years we have been working together. 

So we spend weeks on prep work. What questions/concerns could come up? Who would be most opposed? What should we include but still keep it simple?

When the big day arrives, the meeting is almost a non-sequitur. We run through the slides and there isn’t much head-nodding even as we get to the final slide. It’s quiet…too quiet. 

As people make some polite but non-committal noises, my mind starts going down various paths. Were decisions already made and this was just a formality? Did they attend the meeting just to be polite? Is this perceived as a massive overreach from the guy with the least domain experience? 

No alt text provided for this image

Jack jumps in to change the mood with a “Great job, Informulate team! Well, what do you guys think?” and after some prompting, conversation starts up again. Statements like “You mean we have NOT been doing that so far,” “how is that different,” and “of course, it makes sense” bubble up. Then, within minutes, all high level recommendations are accepted. Executive management gives Jack the buy-in he needs, and the engagement structure is changed. 

Budget is set aside for experimentation, user engagement/customer discovery is made a priority, data reviews are scheduled every quarter, new performance metrics come about and stakeholders get much better visibility into decision making. 

Two years later the program hits all time highs for user engagement, adoption and satisfaction. Jack is now clearly established as the leader for the program. One simple experiment brings about a 25% increase in conversion just by itself, and there are many experiments running in parallel with lots of value to be unlocked. Inter-group friction and resource contention is still an issue but data-review meetings and validation for decisions provide leaders the visibility they so desperately need. 

Now it’s not everyday that we get to see a black and white win like this for our clients. Executive decisions and outcomes often take years to reveal whether they were insightful or insipid. Leaders have it hard. If it doesn’t work, it’s your fault. And if it works, it’s often dismissed as an obvious decision. In fact, even in this situation it took years of wandering unknown deserts to gradually realize that the desert was, in fact, full of resources. 

What I learned from this was at the end of the day, the root problem is rarely software understanding or resource contention or other symptoms. 

It was about collaboration and trust building. Decisions made without explanation or visibility cannot engender trust. Without the data to complete the feedback loop – from idea, to prioritization, to delivery, to outcome – decisions will appear to be biased and trust will be lost. 

Hope that helps you on your journey, godspeed!

-Rajiv Menon (CEO @ Informulate)

NOTE: Names changed for privacy reasons

Related Blogs

have a question?

Send us a message

stay informed
Subscribe to 2m2x! Get the latest insights on innovation from our CEO, Rajiv Menon

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Time To Reinvent Your Company?​

Time to reinvent your company but not sure where to start? Download or free Innovation Workbook to get started today!

* You will be automatically redirected to the Workbook after you complete the form.

Process Automation

To learn more about our Process Automation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Code Review

To learn more about our Code Review, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Process Audit

To learn more about our Process Audit, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Salesforce Architecture Review

To learn more about our Salesforce Architecture Review, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Digital Transformation

To learn more about our Digital Transformation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Product Development

To learn more about our Product Development solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Team Enrichment

To learn more about our Team Enrichment solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Business Intelligence

To learn more about our Business Intelligence solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Salesforce Consulting

To learn more about our Salesforce Consulting solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We are ready to help you succeed!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Digital Transformation

To learn more about our Digital Transformation solutions, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

We love making an impact!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.

Submit Your Resume

To apply for this position, fill out the form below and attach your resume in PDF format. A member of our HR team will review your submission and reply accordingly.

We love building things!

To request a call, fill out the form below and an Informulate team member will reach out to discuss your project needs.