News & info
Training & transfer
Details of practical support for implementing roadmapping and related methods can be found here.
Roadmapping workshop templates are available to download here.
Roadmap architecture is elaborated on here.
Roadmapping as process
A perspective on roadmapping as process is provided here.
Roadmaps provide an integrating hub for strategy toolkits, as discussed here,
Worth a look
Some links to useful and interesting resources and perspectives on roadmapping are provided here.
R&D Today is a new practice-oriented website for R&D managers from the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). Useful resources are provided, with several themes of current interest highlighted: ideation and creativity in R&D, roadmapping, technology strategy, managing international R&D, and managing the R&D pipeline.
I coordinate the Strategic Technology & Innovation Management (STIM) consortium programme, a practice-oriented research and networking collaboration between industry and the Cambridge Centre for Technology Management (CTM). Now in its 5th year, STIM provides a research-practice platform to test new ideas and progress more mature research towards application and impact. Queries: email Rob Phaal.
Many roadmaps fall at the last hurdle, without due consideration of how the key messages should be formatted for engagement with key stakeholder groups. The board will be interested in a different kind of roadmap to those needed by engineers and programme managers. Often it is helpful to produce both detailed and 'simplified' versions, to support implementation and communication of strategy.
A process has been developed to support the visual design of roadmaps, demonstrated for graphene (Nanoscale vol 7, no 11): Kerr, C. and Phaal, R. (2015), 'Visualising roadmaps: a design-driven approach', Research-Technology Management, 58 (4), pp. 45-54.
Diagnostics and problem solving
Even if a large scale roadmapping deployment is intended, it is sensible to start with a small step to help scope, design and de-risk the initiative, as an iterative learning process. It is important to demonstrate benefits early, and the method is often deployed in a diagnostic or problem solving mode initially. Roadmapping can also provide a useful 'completeness check' for strategic plans, with gaps and inconsistencies quickly revealed. A senior manager from Philips once said that roadmaps are like 'dirty mirrors', revealing the bad as well as the good - don't blame the tool, sort it out, updating the roadmap along the way.
With the timeline reversed, the structure provided by roadmapping provides a useful framework for application to historical developments and projects, as a research instrument and diagnostic, to learn from the past. This has been used in research, to better understand the dynamics of technology-intensive industrial emergence, transition and transformation, and within companies to support innovation process and post-project review.
Roadmapping and change management
Strategy and its implementation inevitably involves organisational change, which of course can be challenging, and is one reason why many strategies are not implemented. Roadmapping is a useful method for supporting change, in terms of the consensus-building process and the communication power of roadmaps. The general structure of roadmaps is inherently 'change friendly', as illustrated below where the 'change formula' is superimposed:
The change formula is a pragmatic approach to change management that can be applied at both organisation and individual levels. It recognises that all change (even good change) comes with a cost which should be recognised. For change programmes to be effective three issues must be addressed together, and the notional product of these must outweigh the cost (if any factor is 'zero' then change will be significantly hampered). These factors are:
Dissatisfaction: if there is no recognition that the current state is not satisfactory then there will be little inclination to change. The left hand side of the roadmap provides a natural place to articulate the current state and the reasons why this is not satisfactory ('burning platform').
Vision: dissatisfaction is a motivator, but without a vision of a better place in the future, dissatisfaction alone can cause worry and potentially panic. The right hand side of the roadmap is a natural place to articulate one or more desirable future states, and the difference between this and the current state sets out the scale of the challenge facing the organisation.
Process: with the boundary conditions defined (current and future states), the middle of the roadmap provides a natural place to explore and chart the potential paths from today to the future - the way forward, leading to contextualised actions.
A template incorporating the change formula is provided here (see template #9).
A bibliography of more than 800 roadmapping publications is maintained. Roadmapping emerged from industry about four decades ago, first attracting academic interest in the late 1990s. Despite widespread application at firm and sector levels, the method is rarely covered in general management teaching programmes or textbooks on strategy and innovation.
Public domain roadmaps
Many thousands of roadmaps are freely available on the internet, for virtually every sector, technology and geographic region, mostly in the form of pdf reports. These are a useful source of information, but reports must be filtered for quality and relevance. Who developed it and why? How old is it? How was it developed? How well structured is it? How well do the graphical elements support the structured narrative? Good roadmaps are easy to navigate.
What is roadmapping?
The terms 'roadmap' and 'roadmapping' are widely used now, in ways that are not always coherent with the industrial roots of the approach. This, combined with diverse applications and variable quality leads to lots of noise on the internet that can make it challenging to understand what the approach is, and how it can help.
For a general account of roadmapping concept and practice see: Phaal, R., Farrukh, C. and Probert, D. (2010), Roadmapping for strategy and innovation - aligning technology and markets in a dynamic world, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge.
In addition, public and in-company training is available.