Setting Up Your Vision through a Road Map to Success

Pave the vision way with smooth paths all through the power of a road map

For every Scrum project, the Product Owner (PO) has a vision that can be realized through a road map to success. In this blog article, we go through some ways on how to do this through collectively --creating a product vision and then working together on a road map for a path to success.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash


All project started from an idea, then that idea became a vision. Consequently that vision transformed all through the power of the project members behind it, to see it through to success. This success is lead and driven by the passions and determination of the PO. The Project lead is responsible for working with their team to ensure this success. So, the PO needs to partner and work their team to create a project vision.

Engage others

To do this, the project lead must find ways to engage their team mates to find their vision. 
A simple and effective way is to include your team mates in setting the vision.

Organize a vision session

As a PO, when setting up a vision session, ensure you invite not only your team members but also your sponsor, consider all the key stakeholders that have skin in the game when it comes to the project.  

Ensure you communicate the reason for the meeting an why it is important to all the stakeholders to be there. You should convey that you can get full organisational alignment behind your vision. If you convey this before the session begins.
Only invite key stakeholders that have skin in the game, these are the people who can make or break your work instantly. This will help you focus on what is important.
With the vision session, limit the amount of attendees to twenty, this makes it a manageable group, and you can break the groups out into cross-functional working groups for brain-storming tasks if you need to. 

Games for the Vision session

The following three options are recommended exercises you can conduct for the Vision session.
  1. PO and team with stickies: Get the project lead to facilitate the session, have all the attendees provide ideas and feedback, while the PO captures the information on a whiteboard, or your attendees can use sticky notes to post up. 
  2. Design the Box: As a group, get your team to design a box by drawing a picture of the front of a box, which could include the product name, a graphic or logo for the product, and three to five key selling points or objectives for the product. Then draw the back of the box, and include the product description, key features, and also any operating requirements. 
  3. This exercise comes from Bill Shackelford's Design the Box game storm
  4. Design the Box mix: A play on Design the Box, you could split the group into two or three sub-groups and get them to develop their own box. Then each group sells their box to the project lead, who can then select one that has been created, or combine them into one vision.
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Once the box is designed and the PO has agreed on a group decision; then all the attendees then need to decide what the definition of done is for the project. These criteria are used to communicate to the team, stakeholders, that when complete, the project achieved the vision they helped set. 

The definition of done criteria should include functionality, and non-functional requirements, such as performance, and usability. 

Once the vision session is completed, the would have aligned themselves behind a vision that they have helped to define.

Turn the vision into a road map

Now that the vision is established, we need to work out how the project or product will be delivered. This is where road mapping comes in.
The Scrum framework uses specific tools to start breaking the work down into manageable sizes. One key tool is the road map

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Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Setting up a road map session - Themes

The PO will schedule a product road mapping session. The PO, Scrum master, and all the team members will need to attend. 
Just like the vision session, it is also recommended to include subject matter experts and key stakeholders as they will help ensure no critical elements are missing.
You can include your executive sponsor to attend also so they understand all the perspectives invested in the project. This meeting can range from a couple of hours to half a day. Depending on how big the project is. Once everyone is in the room, start by identifying the themes.
Themes are groupings of features or functionality needed for your product. Your theme priorities may not be linear.; so you don't have to complete the whole theme all at once.

Follow up road map session - User Stories

Note: PO will need to compose some user stories in between these sessions. This is typically done in a second session but no hard or fast rules about this.
Once the themes are captured, the PO will take this same group through an initial backlog of stories in priority order. 

This is done by the PO walking through each user story and as a group you collectively apply them to the right theme on the road map. The attendees identify and write out any missing stories to include them in the road map also. 
Road maps are only an estimate. Predicting too far in advance can be disastrous. In Scrum, be careful to represent your road map as an estimate of completion, not a committed timing for delivery.
Map out the fact to the attendees. Inform them that as the team executes the sprints, the road map is updated as they learn more.
The road map is a living document you'll use to guide your teams through to completion. When executed well, the road mapping sessions solidifies the stakeholders' understanding of your project and their alignment behind you.
I hope you have learned a little from this step to help drive your projects to success. Until next time, keep it agile!

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