What is Roadmapping?

'Roadmapping' originated as a business concept but has now been widely adopted by global companies, public bodies, and stakeholder groups alike. 'Technology Roadmapping' has been a particular focus - yet Roadmapping is valuable in many contexts. Roadmapping is undertaken by individual organisations, or by cross-sector networks. In both situations it is valuable to co-create the Roadmap with diverse external interests, to benefit from their independent external perspective on the internal challenges.


We define Roadmapping as: 'The use of a framework by to co-create a 'big-picture' view of a complex subject, and define strategic actions.'


Roadmapping is distinct from traditional 'planning'. 'Project planning' is most appropriate where objectives, assumptions and actions can be clearly specified. The focus is on developing a logical set of sequenced activities. 'Strategic planning' is concerned with the bigger picture but also usually focuses on producing 'one right answer'. Traditionally, this work was undertaken by a select group of strategists, admired for their foresight, yet rather remote from the organisational 'coal-face'.

Roadmapping is also distinct from Horizon Scanning (HS) - which the UK Government defines as 'the systematic examination of potential threats, opportunities and likely developments including but not restricted to those at the margins of current thinking and planning'. Roadmapping encompasses much of what HS does (e.g. considering drivers and trends), but goes much further by tackling what the scan for any specific area means, what might be possible, and how to act on these insights.


The distinctiveness of Roadmapping can be illustrated by this example. When travelling by road, we use maps to help us 'get from A to B'. However, the map usually offers a choice of routes, and can be used for a more exploratory journey too - the map could suggest somewhere to break our journey that was not part of our original plans. The map is full of information, and a useful basis for discussing and agreeing with others how to make the journey. But the map itself does not force us along one fixed path.


We define a Roadmap as: 'A visual big-picture framework of a complex field, created to provide a record and to aid communication, positioning trends and activities on a time axis, and showing interdependencies.'


There is no fixed standard for what a Roadmap should contain. Our generic Roadmap model, which we flexibly adapt to specific circumstances, brings together five main components: 'Drivers', 'Actions', 'Capabilities, 'Promoters' and 'Outcomes'. The fully-developed Roadmap places them on a time axis which links 'Where we are now?' with 'Where we want to be?' and 'How do we get there?'.

'Drivers' are developed using the 'PESTLE' model (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental). 'Actions' depend on the context (e.g. innovations in products, services, processes, or business models). 'Capabilities' include those needed to take forward the Roadmap. 'Promoters' enable the Actions (e.g. by overcoming 'blockers') and include technological developments, investment requirements or changes in Government policy or legislation. 'Outcomes' define the destination for the journey.


IT tools to support Roadmaps range from simple spreadsheets to bespoke software. However, Roadmapping is not simply about assembling individual pieces of information and filling in a template. Our approach challenges existing thinking, moves it into new areas outside current 'comfort zones', and, in the process, co-creates new knowledge and commitments. We do this by bringing stakeholders together in a Brain-Pool Workshop to discuss and develop a Roadmap collaboratively. Our approach uses special technology to capture, share, manipulate and assess all inputs to the Roadmap design.