We have seen and reviewed a lot of technology roadmaps. Heck, we have written a lot of technology roadmaps. So, you would think that with all this experience we would have mastered the art of the perfect roadmap. Yet, something in that process always bothered us.
When we finally sat down to try and put a finger on how to improve the process towards improved technology initiative outcomes, we realized that sometimes roadmaps end up more fiction than fact. As our discussion continued, this quote was brought up:
"There are things we know, that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know that we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. And there are things we do not know that we don't know."
I am sure you have all heard this quote (or some variation of it) before. While the quote, within the context it was originally said, had nothing to do with technology roadmaps, having this perspective is helpful for just that.
Here is why:
1. You know what you know.
As humans, we like being knowledgeable and feeling confident within our domain expertise. To that end, typically that area of expertise coupled with stated outcomes (desired or mandated) of the executive team become the core focus of the roadmap. It makes the executives happy to see a plan reflecting how, what they want, will be achieved and the team can speak confidently to each area of the roadmap. Everyone is happy.
As a result, the roadmap becomes a well meaning document of intent, but it might not be setting the right expectations with the team or with management. Further, it might not have the right level of details to fully guide the team to achieve the stated outcomes. Need proof, check out number 2 and 3 below.
2. The known, unknowns.
Maybe you are moving to the cloud and you know you will have to increase your network capacity, but you don't know exactly how much, so you guesstimate. Or, maybe your executive team has asserted that they want to improve mobility. You know there are security implications, but you don't have all the details ironed out in terms of what that means. Whatever the situation, often what we have seen is these items get added as a footnote or omitted from (the written) part of the plan.
Unfortunately, when this happens (especially with unknowns that are tangential to the focus of the project, but nonetheless equally or nearly as important), proper budget, resource allocations, even timelines aren't set.
Worse, when known unknowns aren't clearly called out, it is harder to raise your hand mid-stream and ask for more support in whatever fashion it is needed (time, money, people, etc.) to get things back on track.
3. The dreaded unknown, unknowns.
This is obviously the hardest category. In the original quote, it continues to say (I am paraphrasing) that over time, it is the hope that one or two new unknowns get uncovered. While true, that certainly does not help with your current planning!
With the threat of even some of the known unknowns steering you off the road, the unknown, unknowns could put you straight in a ditch! Sure, you could talk to other teams that have undertaken similar initiatives, but with different requirements, environments, teams and skill levels it is likely never an apples to apples comparison.
So, if the ditch isn't an option, what is?
Enter the AMTRA Capability Framework. Our architects, using our proprietary framework engine look at the capabilities of people, process and technology across 8 critical areas to help you understand all of the variables across what you do and don't know, to make sure you have the right capabilities to be successful.
Better yet, the output is more than a roadmap. Its a recipe book, which includes detailed step by step guidance to get you from your current state to your desired end state. No more fluffy roadmaps, no more guesstimates, no more dreaded unknown, unknowns, just a comprehensive, detailed plan to give every stakeholder confidence.
Check out our quick video and then click here to learn more about the Framework. If you think the Framework can help you, give us a call today!