The pressure resulting from uncertainty is often most acute in senior management roles where strategic decisions that have far reaching effects. If uncertainty is not approached with the respect and structure it demands, it can paralyse their ability to make decisions that can minimise threats and exploit opportunities.
Roadmapping is a planning approach that provides a structured ‘lens’ with which to look at a complex situation and deduce action plans. Its framework and process combine systematic planning with imagination and knowledge creation. Together, these help to interpret ambiguous situations, map out potential consequences, and take appropriate actions.
A framework for making sense of complex and uncertain situations
The power of roadmapping lies in bringing together professionals from across an organisation to contribute insights and expertise – developing a visual narrative of the organisation’s future – to arrive at an informed and shared vision.
Roadmapping helps to clarify the current situation (and the immediate past leading up to it), determine what the future situation could be (or should be, in terms of setting a vision) and maps a route from the present to the future.
To achieve this, roadmapping combines various layers or levels of strategic information, both external and internal to the organisation, for example industry, market and technology trends and drivers, as well as organisation value streams, technology capabilities and resources.
Figure 1: The roadmap framework combines different layers of strategic information or viewpoints over a timeline, helping you to determine a way forward .
Adding tools for further clarity
One of the most important benefits of roadmapping is its ability to interface with other methods such as scenario planning and options thinking.
- Scenario planning provides a structure to the ambiguous future or situation and helps to draw out a handful of plausible futures.
- Options thinking helps you design flexibility and contingencies into investment commitments, placing the organisation in a robust position to avoid risks and seize opportunities that emerge as the future eventually unfolds.
Figure 2: Roadmapping can integrate scenario and options thinking techniques to identify viable strategic options and investment decisions in the face of an uncertain outlook.
This toolset and other adaptable roadmapping-based toolsets like it have been developed from evidenced-based research by the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge and others to help organisations develop the foresight and robust strategic plans required for uncertain and complex situations.
Outcomes from a roadmapping approach
Results may include:
- Alignment of R&D and business objectives.
- Decisions informed by expert knowledge from across your organisation and agreed through discussion and collaboration.
- Consensus-based and transparent outcomes, owned by key stakeholders.
- A visual output that can be easily communicated across your organisation.
Webinar 19th April
Dr. Rob Phaal and Dr Imoh Ilevbare will be hosting a webinar ‘Strategic roadmapping – take control in times of uncertainty’ on 19th April 2017 at 13.00 BST. Click here to register.
Full article can be read at IfM at www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/news/roadmapping-in-uncertainty/#.WN0w3m_yuUm