20200910 - LeanAgileX2020 - Visualising the why — strategy and roadmaps in context, Craig Cockburn

by Thierry de Pauw on


Visualising the why — strategy and roadmaps in context, Craig Cockburn

Forming an agile strategy in a complex landscape with strategy maps
@siliconglen #strategymaps

Intended audience:

  • people who create strategy
  • review strategy
  • implement any part of a strategy
  • at any level of the organisation

What is strategy

a story of discovery via Roman Pichler's roadmaps and Simon Wardley's mapping

both were talking about strategy
Wardley maps don't show you what to do first
=> took a Wardley map and turned it into a visual roadmap

Why maps matter

"Corporate strategy":
- be the leading army
- win 3 battles this year
- be in the magic quadrant for territory expanders this year

Battle of Bannockburn, 23/24 June 1314
The Scots defeated an English army more than double their size by using an effective strategy
Only 2 days.

Strategy is not just for multi year big spends
Also, all maps are wrong, some are useful

Start with a common language

Strategy = a coherent and contextual plan to deliver outcomes
Outcome = has lasting value in realising the vision
Vision = the desired future estate
Tactics = supporting activities in the strategy ...

Vision realised by Outcomes
Outcomes are delivered by Strategy
Strategy is supported by Tactics
Progress measure by Key Results

Culture eats Strategy for breakfast
Peter Drucker didn't really said that, but ...
-> Culture Myths debunked
it is your culture which helps your strategy
therefore, these are complementary rather than opposite.

The seven deadly sins of cargo cult
1. copying what other people do without context
2. repeat 7 times

We're still sometimes poor at applying effective strategy in business
Kodak, Blockbuster, Nokia, Toys R Us
we still have cameras
we still watch films
we still buy phones and toys

97% of 10.000 senior executives believe strategy is the most important organisational leadership

Agile Failure Patterns: it's about leadership

Strategy and Agile

even a framework like SAFe do not go deep into strategy

From the book: Strategize, Roman Pichler

Vision -> Product Strategy -> Product Roadmap -> Product Backlog


Proposed approach

Strategy Cycle:
- Purpose: why does this matter to us? => The Game
- Landscape: description of environment
- Climate: forces that effect the environment => Observe
- Doctrine: operating techniques and beliefs => Orient
- Leadership: context specific decisions => Act

Frequently missing
- strategy needs a compelling story and committed people
- dynamics of competitors
- remember culture & strategy are not mutually exclusive
- regular updates in line with feedback and changing circumstances

  • not a to-do list to fossilise on a slide deck for 5 years

if knowledge evolves, why should strategy be fixed?

=> Strategy Map

Applying this approach

Strategy map template

The (old) Plan: agile transformation
what could possibly go wrong
=> strategy, roadmap and plan B

Suggested approach:
1. understand the present
2. what outcomes support he vision
3. use red team thinking to explore alternative views (premortem)
4. plan to realistic horizon - too deep or far is waste
5. connect the present to the future

Earlier Strategy Maps:
earlier attempts by Kaplan, inventor of balanced scorecard

Red Team Thinking: US Military Red Team Handbook - looks at bringing out assumptions and 2nd/3rd order dependencies
Pre-mortem: blog by Mike Cohn

What about Wardley Maps

helpful in context
typically visualise movement in relation to technical maturity and value stream
Wardley Map's and strategy maps can work well together
Strategy maps aren't just about technical maturity
Strategy maps are a generic way of visualising future work, like a Kanban board

Further Reading

  • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy
  • Right to Left
  • Strategize