I was speaking with a product leader recently about his team working agreements. He desperately wanted to empower his team, but found that without a clear sense of their respective roadmaps he couldn’t advocate for their needs effectively.
“What would it take for them to have always up to date, outcome-focused, and suitably decomposed 6 month roadmap? And for you to actually understand it and provide feedback?” I asked.
He paused to think for a bit. “Well, I guess, they’d probably need information from me, coaching and feedback, and…time.”
And therein was the challenge. Time. The product managers in his team were so overwhelmed with the day to day that they had no time to do this more proactive thinking. The leader was similarly overwhelmed. So they adopted a coping mechanism: big-bang quarterly planning, which in turn became so painful that no one wanted to do it more frequently.
If it is important, then do it. Ask each of your PMs to put 1hr on their calendar each week to work on it. Let them say no to something else (don’t expect them to work an extra hour). Make yourself available every two weeks to review the roadmaps…ideally as a group, so the PMs can learn from each other. In short, if something hurts (but is important), do it more often without overloading the team.