A Comprehensive Guide to Sharpen Your Product Thinking and Roadmapping Skills

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

May 25, 2024

5 min read


A Comprehensive Guide to Sharpen Your Product Thinking and Roadmapping Skills


In today's fast-paced business landscape, it's crucial for problem solvers and product managers to have a well-honed thinking process and a clear roadmap that aligns with the company's long-term vision. This article combines two essential topics - sharpening your thinking process and building a product roadmap that everyone can understand. By exploring these topics together, we can gain valuable insights into becoming better problem solvers and effective communicators within our organizations.

  • 1. Is this problem merely a symptom of a bigger problem?

When faced with a problem, it's essential to take a step back and analyze whether it is merely a symptom of a larger underlying issue. Falling in love with the problem itself can blind us from identifying the root cause. By asking the question, "Is this problem merely a symptom of a bigger problem?" we can address the root cause and solve the issue at its core.

  • 2. How impactful is this problem for the customers?

To assess the impact of a problem effectively, we need to consider three dimensions: reach, intensity, and user segment. Understanding the number of customers affected, the depth of the pain caused, and the specific user segment impacted allows us to prioritize problems and allocate resources accordingly. After all, companies are created to serve customers' needs and make a profit.

  • 3. Does it align with the company/product's long-term vision and strategy?

Aligning the problem with the company or product's long-term vision and strategy is crucial for sustainable growth. As strategist Michael Porter once said, "The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do." By evaluating if the problem aligns with the long-term vision, we can make informed decisions about what to prioritize and what to deprioritize.

  • 4. What happens if you do nothing?

Understanding the cost of delay or the cost of doing nothing is a powerful exercise. Some problems require immediate attention, much like a fire that needs to be extinguished to prevent further damage. On the other hand, some problems may slowly deteriorate, like a leaking roof, eventually leading to catastrophic consequences. By evaluating the consequences of inaction, we can make proactive decisions and address problems before they escalate.

  • 5. What is the customer's job-to-be-done?

Adopting a Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework allows us to think beyond product usability. Instead of focusing solely on the product, we should aim to understand the customer's broader goal or job-to-be-done. For example, when a user flies from London to Dublin, their goal is not to ride a plane; it's to meet their colleagues. By understanding the customer's job-to-be-done, we can design solutions that truly meet their needs.

  • 6. How can I build a deeper moat for my product?

Creating a deeper moat around our products helps protect them from competitors. Network effects, where increased usage of our product adds value for each individual user, is one powerful way to build a moat. By considering how to create network effects or other strategies to strengthen our product's position, we can establish a competitive advantage.

  • 7. What future situation can make my product irrelevant?

In an ever-evolving market, it's essential to anticipate future disruptions and stay ahead of the curve. By asking ourselves what future situations could make our product irrelevant, we can proactively seek new opportunities for innovation and improvement. Disrupting our own product before others do ensures that we remain relevant and competitive in the long run.

  • 8. How much is our appetite to solve this problem?

Assessing the organization's appetite to tackle a particular problem is crucial for resource allocation and prioritization. Some problems may require significant investment and effort, while others may offer more immediate and feasible solutions. By evaluating the appetite to solve a problem, we can make informed decisions about resource allocation and ensure the efficient use of time and effort.

  • 9. What is feasible to build?

A good solution is one that is desirable for users, viable for the business, and feasible to build within the available resources and constraints. Considering the feasibility of a solution ensures that we take into account technical limitations, resource availability, and the overall capabilities of our team. By aligning our solutions with feasibility, we increase the likelihood of successful implementation.

  • 10. Where is the point of diminishing return?

Identifying the point of diminishing returns is crucial to avoid investing excessive time, resources, and effort into a problem that may not yield significant results. Understanding when the returns on investment start to decrease allows us to shift our focus to other areas that offer higher potential for value creation.

  • 11. What would the Red Team say about this solution?

The "Red Team" exercise involves critically examining our solutions from the perspective of an adversary or competitor. By challenging ourselves and seeking potential flaws, weaknesses, or alternative viewpoints, we can strengthen our solutions and ensure they can withstand scrutiny. The Red Team exercise helps us identify potential blind spots and make our solutions more robust.

  • 12. What is the riskiest assumption we have here? How can we de-risk it?

Every solution comes with assumptions. Identifying the riskiest assumption allows us to focus our efforts on validating or de-risking it. By addressing the riskiest assumption first, we can reduce uncertainty and increase the chances of success.

  • 13. What is the smallest chunk of value we can deliver?

In today's fast-paced business environment, time is of the essence. Rather than waiting for a perfect, fully-featured solution, delivering the smallest chunk of value quickly allows us to gather feedback, validate assumptions, and iterate based on real-world user insights. This approach reduces the time lag between research and launching, increasing our chances of success.

  • 14. Am I the best person to solve this?

Recognizing our own strengths and limitations is essential for effective problem-solving. Sometimes, we may not have the necessary expertise or skills to tackle a specific problem. In such cases, involving the right team members or seeking external help can lead to better outcomes. Being self-aware and open to collaboration ensures that problems are solved by the most qualified individuals.

In conclusion, by combining a sharp thinking process with a clear and accessible product roadmap, we can enhance our problem-solving skills and effectively communicate our strategies to stakeholders. The 17 questions provided offer actionable advice for sharpening our thinking and building a product roadmap that everyone can understand.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the Jobs-to-be-Done framework to understand the broader goals and needs of your customers.
  • 2. Continuously evaluate the alignment of your solutions with the long-term vision and strategy of your company.
  • 3. Regularly reassess the feasibility and potential impact of your solutions to ensure efficient resource allocation and value creation.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)