While road maps help prepare for the long term, it may not help necessarily in the short term. Defining short term priorities are difficult. Present day considerations tend to be fluid, and often impact what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done.

All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.
– Earl Nightingale

When I worked services we, more often than not, worked on the waterfall model. This allowed for us to propose product road maps that were quite ‘static’ in nature – a lot of our clients made B2B products, that had relatively lower fluctuation in priorities. However, with consumer centric products, it was hardly the case.

Source: DNostallon

Source: DNostallon

For starters, consumer centric products, more often than not, tends to prefer agile over waterfall. Further, development priorities were often rearranged based on market imperatives – influenced by consumer preferences, industry trends, or competition.

Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.
– Herbert Hoover

For products with a legacy, determining priorities is a challenge – choosing priorities based on the road map, internal and external stakeholders, is always difficult. In such cases, the competitive environment often helps. Here’s why.

With relatively nascent products, there’s always an element of ‘catch up’. It’s about maturing the product, and bringing it up to par with what’s already in the market. Once matured, the competitive nature of the industry help drive priorities – mostly helping prioritize features that help the product become a leader.

This is not to say that nascent products should blindly copy what’s out in the market. On the contrary, such products should take inspiration, and implement in it, in its own DNA.

Sometimes, a little competition, goes a long way.