Innovation Roadmaps – The What, Why And How

As visible creatures, we depend on graphic representations to simplify and talk complicated knowledge. Over the previous many years, processing data has turn out to be tougher than ever, but decision-making depends closely on understanding and speaking this knowledge.

So, the visible communication obligations additionally prolonged from specialised roles to managers and professionals who want this extra talent to make sense of their work.

This is the case as a result of visible expression is important not only for purely statistical data, but in addition for enterprise workflows and processes. So, subsequent to the all-too-common charts and graphs, roadmaps have turn out to be a key device in showcasing and guiding the journey of a enterprise, product, or venture.

Even although roadmaps have been generally utilized in product improvement, they’re simply as highly effective as a communication device for innovation. The versatility of roadmaps makes them extremely sensible in constructing a joint understanding and alignment between technique and innovation actions.

There are numerous instruments designed to helps us visualize knowledge, create charts, workflows, or roadmaps. However, the true problem isn’t what device to decide on, however how one can course of, construction and manage the huge quantity of information and data required for innovation actions. For this, one wants a transparent thoughts, and a deep understanding of what it takes to simplify the complicated.

To that finish, we wrote this text on innovation roadmaps to discover their vital position in bridging the hole between right now and tomorrow. We’ll dive deeper into the kinds of innovation roadmaps, the challenges, and sensible suggestions on how one can make them work in your group.

What Is An Innovation Roadmap

Before getting all the way down to the nitty-gritty, let’s take a step again and clarify what an innovation roadmap is, and the way it’s totally different from different kinds of roadmaps you could be extra conversant in.

In brief, an innovation roadmap is a visible illustration that aligns the group’s technique with innovation actions and brings readability to the route, processes, priorities, and timeline required to attain particular targets. 

An innovation roadmap is a visible illustration that aligns the group’s technique with innovation actions and brings readability to the route, processes, priorities, and timeline required to attain particular targets.


An innovation roadmap has many ranges of abstraction, related to the kinds of innovation or tasks you pursue. You may have, for instance, excessive stage roadmaps that span over a few years, or very detailed roadmaps that concentrate on short-term tasks.

As there are such a lot of variables, there isn’t any pre-defined template you possibly can merely apply to your upcoming venture. And because it’s a extremely versatile and adaptable device, essentially the most difficult factor about innovation roadmaps is the dangerous and unsure nature of innovation itself.

That being mentioned, there are specific “rules” in creating an innovation roadmap that if adopted, can assist you obtain your innovation targets.

First, any innovation roadmap ought to think about a set of clear deliverables essential to maneuver the group from level A to level B. For that to occur, one should analysis the market, collect insights, establish traits, and white spots, and create situations for improvement of future markets, applied sciences, or merchandise.

With this in thoughts, and a radical evaluation of the group, you set targets, milestones, and map out a visible presentation of what your plan is.

roadmap innovation frameworkTherefore, a very good roadmap ought to join time: the previous, current, and future, and house: the highest and the underside of the group.

Basically, as you progress, you transfer each horizontally (the timeline axis), and vertically, (the organizational axis) on the roadmap. As you advance to attain new milestones, you observe strategic targets, so that you transfer top-down, and you’re employed to execute innovation actions, so you progress bottom-up.

To summarize, a roadmap for innovation is the hyperlink between the highest of the group the place the imaginative and prescient and technique are created and the underside of the group, the place the innovation actions occur.

These innovation actions are very totally different for every group and at instances, for some, it would appear to be a guessing sport as you attempt to make predictions and guess on one thing that might take form solely in years to come back.

But as is often the case with innovation, you possibly can’t presumably know all the pieces prematurely. So, it is advisable to take some dangers, and take advantage of knowledgeable determination you possibly can, with the knowledge you will have. Of course, this additionally requires some resilience as you’ll have to alter as you go, if issues don’t prove as deliberate, which hardly ever do.

That’s how cellphones, electrical automobiles, and lots of different applied sciences had been developed by a few of the largest organizations. They determined to guess on applied sciences that had been of their early levels and work on a long-term innovation roadmap.

With all the trouble required to create an innovation roadmap, you would possibly surprise why would a corporation hassle, and get distracted from the on a regular basis enterprise as traditional? The easy reply is, as a result of in case you don’t embrace innovation in you “business as usual”, eventually, you’ll be left behind, and the enterprise will die. You’ll both be surpassed by the competitors, otherwise you’ll be unable to maintain up with the modifications that occurred round you, when you had been busy within the on a regular basis work.

So, there isn’t any approach round it, innovation is the best way ahead and innovation roadmaps may give you readability on how one can transfer in that route. Let’s see how. 

The Significance Of Roadmaps In Realizing Innovation 

Simple annual planning is what all corporations do, however it might probably solely get you up to now. On one facet it may be too short-sighted and on the opposite it may be too lengthy to adapt to modifications you undergo through the 12 months.

An excellent innovation roadmap balances each short- and long- time period facets. For high-stake large improvements you want a roadmap that considers the long-term imaginative and prescient and the short-term modifications. That’s the place you’ll begin seeing the true worth of an innovation roadmap and reap extra of those advantages:

  • Align Innovation Capabilities And Technique

First, and foremost, an innovation roadmap brings collectively and aligns the enterprise (and innovation) technique with the innovation capabilities. Not solely that, however as a result of you possibly can seize the larger image, you’ll get readability, which in return allows the group to implement the strategic selections that had been made.

The roadmap considerations the entire group, although solely a particular few will work to develop it. Since it serves the whole group, it must also make communication a lot simpler, in any other case individuals won’t grasp how the technique and targets translate in observe, of their work.

strategy alignment

Getting that broad scope early within the preliminary part is a collaborative effort that entails management from totally different departments throughout the group. For instance, it’s important that if you resolve to embark on this journey you carry on the similar desk senior leaders, innovation leaders, head of departments like gross sales and advertising, engineering, and R&D.

In the evaluation part this “get-together” will assist outline strategic gaps, pipeline or course of gaps and the talents and capabilities required in reaching the imaginative and prescient and targets. Just as vital is to set targets and priorities to strengthen the strategic route. 

With the assistance of an innovation roadmap, you possibly can streamline the innovation administration course of and strategies. It could be little bit of a mouthful, so let’s briefly unpack this.

In brief, innovation administration refers to the way you deal with all of the actions associated to innovation, from producing, prioritizing, creating and placing concepts in observe to launching new merchandise, companies and even arising with breakthrough improvements.

It goes with out saying that whereas on paper all of it appears simple, in case you’re somebody who has ever gone via all these steps, you know the way extremely troublesome it may be.

However, from our expertise we seen that organizations that handle innovation efficiently have a couple of issues in frequent:

  • They empower and maintain individuals accountable
  • They carry collectively nice groups on all ranges of the group
  • They put in place the constructions, instruments and processes that make issues transfer ahead
  • They observe a clear imaginative and prescient that’s simply understood by everybody within the group
  • They have a transparent give attention to thought implementation

book a demo white_blue_slim

You can discover from this listing a few of the parts that an innovation roadmap brings to the desk. In creating your roadmap, you:

  • Set targets which can be aligned with the imaginative and prescient of the group
  • Provide a clear give attention to the route by which the group is heading
  • Bring readability by transparently speaking all these items all through the group.

This final level on the listing results in one other large advantage of the innovation roadmap:

  • Foster Clear Communication 

A roadmap is supposed to be the product of collaborative work from totally different groups and departments within the group. Of course, this may differ relying on the kind of roadmap you’ll be engaged on, however usually talking, you’d wish to contain extra than simply the highest managers or a single division with related experience.

The benefit in doing that’s you can carry collectively totally different views and insights on previous, current, and future. For instance, senior workers may give an outline of the “scene” and produce to mild the success components of present tasks in relation with earlier ones.

The final result of this work is shared with workers who could have a greater understanding of the route by which you’re heading. A visible illustration of the technique, targets and milestones forward will carry readability to individuals and a way of belonging as all of them work towards realizing the identical imaginative and prescient.

  • Shine Mild On The White Spots 

In the method of organising the roadmap it’s important to analysis the present market, but in addition establish traits and primarily based on this make assumptions on doable situations for the long run market wants. What is the subsequent large factor that’s slowly getting traction? What elements and capabilities will probably be required to fulfil these?

This step should not be skipped because it shines mild on these white spots that if stuffed flip into new innovation alternatives.

For instance, there’s a large hype round web3, the next-gen web that guarantees to revolutionize companies from all industries, in addition to our interplay and presence on-line. Naturally, there are various corporations that see lots of alternatives on this space as web3 has  broad applicability.

The development continues to be to start with so organizations have loads of white spots to fill in earlier than this know-how can rework their enterprise and create breakthrough innovation.  

As a few of them will work on their innovation roadmap, they are going to body their drawback area and ideate on doable situations. They should ask the fitting questions and search for the solutions.

How will this know-how unfold sooner or later, how it could have an effect on their group, the best way they function or their place available on the market? Are there alternatives that must be explored in additional element? Then, what capabilities they would want, how will they fill in these white spots they recognized and the way will they be capable to adapt?

As is the case with creating one thing new and with innovation, getting on the web3 bandwagon is also dangerous, as some consider it to be yet one more web buzzword. 

Roadmapping Innovation In Observe

Having clarified a few of the most vital facets of an innovation roadmap and its advantages, we are able to transfer ahead to the extra sensible issues. We’ll clarify the most typical steps in creating an innovation roadmap via the lens of a number of examples. Understandably, since it is a versatile device, most of the steps will look totally different on your group, to match your targets and inner constructions.

So, let’s see what the important thing steps are in creating an innovation roadmap and how one can know if they’re additionally the fitting ones on your group.

steps to roadmap innovation

We divided this into two predominant components: the preparation work, and the improvement work. 

For the preliminary setup, it is advisable to set up the targets, issues or alternatives you’ll pursue via this roadmap. This applies to any type of roadmap, whether or not they’re high-level or extra particular, at a smaller scale.

In this preparation stage it’s best to think about the imaginative and prescient and technique of the group and the way your innovation aspirations and targets may very well be constructed into that. Basically, it is advisable to discover alignment between the targets and the imaginative and prescient, enterprise technique and innovation technique.

For instance, on this roadmap for worldwide shopper packaging, developed by researchers at Cambridge University along with the most important corporations within the trade, they began with three key targets: seize key traits within the packaging sector, talk the implication of the traits and the alternatives for innovation, and present a framework for strategic planning, determination making and collaboration within the sector. 

In different instances, like one among these roadmaps for creating a extra sustainable chemical trade, they set targets which can be brief, medium and long run, like: environment friendly removing of hint poisonous metals (short-term),  get rid of excessive threat and excessive affect chemical compounds and ship impact with considerably decrease materials (medium-term), and nil affect, zero toxicity merchandise and processes (long-term).

The roadmap could be intensive, to incorporate many areas within the group, or targeted on a single purpose. For complicated roadmaps you may need a number of targets, that will probably be damaged down into milestones or totally different venture cycles.

To sum up, earlier than speeding enthusiastically to attract charts right here’s a brief recap of the preparation work:

  • Outline the targets and the steps that may observe in creating the roadmap,
  • Decide who will probably be concerned within the course of and the way
  • Clearly talk the method and steps concerned in creating the roadmap.
  • Assign obligations and delegate duties that set the scene for the subsequent steps. This will give individuals time to “do their homework”. 

  • Developing The Roadmap

Next, you can begin organising the roadmap. For a greater construction and extra readability, we are able to cut up this additional into three predominant levels of organising the roadmap: constructing the roadmap, refining the roadmap, updating the roadmap.

Let’s briefly undergo every of those:

1. Building The Roadmap:

The strategy of creating a roadmap can look very totally different for every group however within the preliminary part managers ought to compile data, analysis traits, and analyze markets. Based on these findings, they will make assumptions on future market wants and alternatives, and establish elements required to develop services or products that match their innovation targets.

build the roadmap

This data could be developed into doable situations, like when would sure traits be of better significance on your trade, what points they might pose, and what priorities could be set to show them into alternatives for innovation.  

If we return to our first instance on the shopper packaging roadmap, we observe that after they arrange their targets, they began engaged on a high-level roadmap that would supply steerage, construction, and context to allow innovation within the packaging sector.

They developed the roadmap by working twelve workshops that introduced collectively over twenty corporations, all vital actors within the trade who supplied their insights and experience.

Your group won’t want such an enormous set-up with so many workshops, however getting collectively the leaders, determination makers and other people with the fitting experience is important.

So, you possibly can work on this preliminary complete evaluation via workshops, or in case your individuals are unfold in several distant places, you possibly can run on-line actions like thought challenges for individuals inside your group, or open innovation actions for collaborations with exterior stakeholders. 

As proven above, the foresight and evaluation actions think about traits, market wants, white spots evaluation, and situations.

Kati Pallasaho gives some helpful tips about how foresight can inform your strategic determination, but in addition how one can establish the traits which might information these selections. The two predominant rules she mentions, are adapting a large lens, so trying past the modifications that happens in a corporation’s quick discipline, and the second is to transcend the sturdy alerts, so to concentrate to different particulars and alerts than simply traits and megatrends.

Remember that these are pointers and guidelines of thumb reasonably than a “to do” listing. The instruments and particular steps can look totally different for you.

For instance, in case you’re engaged on a shorter-term innovation roadmap for an present product, you won’t must do many of the aforementioned actions and might as an alternative give attention to buyer necessities and market traits.

2. Refining The Roadmap

This overview is the premise on which you construct the small print of the innovation roadmap. To refine it, it is advisable to first set priorities on your innovation situations, actions or tasks.

This generally is a prolonged course of, that may be once more mentioned and refined throughout group classes, on-line or offline. For every precedence it is advisable to consider the possibilities, white spots, and capabilities required to realized them. Participants ought to consider the milestones for the short-, medium-, and long- time period situations and resolve on the feasibility and the potential for fulfillment.

This part requires involvement from many ranges of the organizations, so you possibly can setup a plan of labor to outline duties and possession for them. To information the roadmap, it’s greatest to have a designated facilitator who can improve the method.

Even although the whole course of can fill tens of pages and reviews, ultimately you wish to simplify the knowledge into a transparent roadmap that features targets, priorities, milestones, and timeline. You can resolve on the extent of element, however since an innovation roadmap ought to talk the technique and route of your innovation initiatives, the less complicated the better to know and act on it.

Always return to the primary targets, construction and framework of your roadmap, so that you don’t get misplaced within the particulars.

For instance, the businesses working along with researchers on the worldwide roadmap for packaging, began their work with the framework of a know-how roadmap, that was the skeleton on high of which they constructed an structure that was later stuffed in with their findings.

Roadmap framework

Source: International Roadmap for Consumer Packaging

3. Updating The Roadmap

Last, however not least, as talked about earlier than, a roadmap is versatile. Part of the work concerned in making a roadmap is to establish the subsequent milestones for eradicating uncertainty out of your innovation actions. This signifies that periodic updates must be in-built and tied to these milestones.

Another cause why you wish to replace the roadmap periodically is that markets, traits, and applied sciences evolve and shift throughout you. After all, if we’re speaking about innovation, we all know that it’s continuously topic to vary and unpredictability.

Since you possibly can’t forestall the unpredictable, you wish to be ready for it by together with in your roadmap periodical reassessments. Revisit the roadmap after every large milestone and have a look at potential developments that may affect its progress.

A structured strategy to updates on the roadmap can work in some conditions, but it surely all comes all the way down to your inner processes. If the roadmap is created round incremental improvements, the method will look totally different, and so will the timelines.

On the opposite hand, for an early-stage startup, the roadmap may have the next milestones: obtain product-market match and safe a collection A funding; Find repeatable go-to-market channels to safe collection B funding; Get to constructive unit financial and safe collection C funding.

Each of those vital milestones would require a revisit of the roadmap and changes in accordance with outcomes and progress.

Success Components

Now, primarily based on all that we’ve explored up to now, it’s time to wrap issues up and produce all of it along with a couple of key success components on your innovation roadmap.

roadmap innovation success factors

Clearly Outlined Targets

The targets you set will dictate not simply how the roadmap will look, but in addition the processes you’ll want to determine. As already talked about, the targets you set should be aligned with the general technique. But additionally, keep in mind and remind others why you want a roadmap within the first place.

Is it to showcase your imaginative and prescient and excite others about it to get entangled? Or is it extra about inner alignment of departments? Clarifying these items early on will show you how to set priorities and resolve on the very best strategy.

For instance, the cellphones trade. 20-30 years in the past, individuals began utilizing cellphones, however large clunky variations, often connected to their automobiles. An innovation roadmap for a cellphone firm at the moment would begin with an enormous imaginative and prescient of offering customers with extra flexibility in utilizing their telephones. They may already see the excessive potential within the cell phone trade at the moment, and so they comprehend it’s an space that wants innovation.

The long-term purpose was to develop the know-how that will permit that. It would take many smaller medium- and short-term targets to satisfy their imaginative and prescient, but it surely all begins with clearly outlined large targets and overarching imaginative and prescient.

Effective Collaboration

As we’ve seen within the examples above, all these roadmaps are workforce workout routines that require totally different views. It’s essential to encourage collaboration and participation to get new concepts and insights, but in addition to get their backup in pushing the agenda ahead.

Here you possibly can have each inner and exterior stakeholders. Internally, you wish to interact leaders and determination makers. They have the data and perception on inner capabilities and white spots. They additionally should push the message of the initiative all the way down to the underside of the corporate the place innovation is applied.

If you’re partaking in creating complicated options, you would possibly want exterior perspective from consultants that your group doesn’t have. 

Time-bound However Nonetheless Versatile

One of the various challenges in constructing an innovation roadmap is that innovation is dangerous and unsure. McKinsey calls this the moving-target dilemma. Roadmaps that look farther into the long run have a “moving” innovation goal since you don’t understand how shopper behaviors, know-how and markets will evolve.

So, it’s best to think about the uncertainty of the long run by creating versatile innovation roadmaps. You can do that by trying not simply at traits in your personal sector, but in addition at megatrends that concern your organization’s future, in addition to widening the lens to see what different modifications can have an effect on the group.

Clear Communication

Last, however not least we come again to crucial position of a roadmap: to speak visually the short-, medium-, and long-term targets aligned with the corporate’s technique.

This is an enormous activity and it’s tempting to incorporate lots of data and particulars. It could be about visible illustration, however you don’t want a devoted designer to attract your roadmap. Instead, you want somebody who can construction data clearly, has a very good overview on all the weather and might carry all the pieces collectively.

You want somebody who can construction data clearly, has a very good overview on all the weather and might carry all the pieces collectively.


However, you shouldn’t get caught in such particulars, and there are additionally loads of instruments that may show you how to roadmap your processes. The secret is to speak the essence, with out utilizing too many jargon phrases, so it’s simple to know for everybody.


We lastly reached the tip of this text, and although such an enormous subject could be lined in lots of extra phrases, we hope you discovered some helpful suggestions that inform and encourage you in your innovation work.

It would possibly really feel overwhelming to have a look at excessive stage roadmaps which have thought all the pieces via. It takes lots of workforce effort, time, and work to get there, but it surely’s all via child steps. You don’t have to duplicate that stage of complexity, you simply have to begin.

Remember to have a look at the massive image. What is it that you just wish to obtain along with your innovation work? Can a roadmap carry readability in your technique, targets, and imaginative and prescient? After all, an innovation roadmap is a compass on your innovation journey and a sensible visualization of your technique.

Whether you already know the place you’re heading or you’re nonetheless figuring it out, a roadmap will give your group route and can assist uncover new alternatives to develop, innovate and finally thrive sooner or later.

If you wish to improve innovation in your group, you need to use a roadmap even at a small scale to search out solutions to vital questions. Where is your group heading? Where are you taking part in, how is that this background trying now and the way it will look sooner or later, and the place do you place your self in relation with the opposite gamers? The large questions it’s best to bear in mind.

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