Strategize: Product Strategy and Product Roadmap Practices for the Digital Age, by Roman Pichler | A Review

As Peter Drucker writes in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, “The best, and perhaps the only, way to avoid killing off the new…is to set up the innovative project from the start as a separate business” (1985, 163).

I read the book by borrowing from Kindle Unlimited selection. Over the last year, I have discovered some great books on Kindle Unlimited. Most of those books have been quick one-time read with just one or two interesting insights. This book falls somewhere in the middle. It is neither a disaster nor a keeper. However, I was glad I read it.

I have followed Roman Pichler’s blog for a while now. He was among the first people to start writing about Product Management in an agile context. Hence, when I saw this book I picked it up in an instant and read it. It was a breezy read and for an experienced product manager, lot of stuff was a refresher for what you know. Some parts were interesting.

The Product Strategy part was largely subpar. Several strategy books (Clayton Christensen, Steve Blank, Harvard Business books on strategy and more) have covered product and business strategy better. Roman did put it all in context of product management with a neat diagram that I loved. I also loved the part where he distinguishes Core, Adjacent, Disruptive innovations. This part was worth reading the book by itself.

The Roadmap part was interesting. Roadmaps and prioritization have largely not been covered by academicians (have been searching a good book on prioritization for product managers for a while). Hence, his chapters are a welcome addition. In the epilogue, he also covers his response to “roadmaps are dangerous/ useless” argument which several people (including Marty Cagan) make. Finally, he gives a thumb rule for when should you visit the roadmap again. He also covers various models for prioritization (Kano, Cost-Benefit being the major ones).

Overall, I’d give the book 3 out of 5. It has enough sparkle to be remembered. I wish Roman keeps producing new editions and upgrades this text. The innovation in organization diagram, product roadmaps, vision-strategy-roadmap-backlog cycle were the most interesting parts for me. It took me about 3 hours to read the book.

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