May 3, 2017

How is a roadmap different from a Why Conversation?

Long-time reader, Ant Pugh and I exchanged a couple of emails regarding my two hour onsite meeting with a prospective client last week.

Here’s the my quote from the original email:

On Friday, I had a two hour onsite meeting at the headquarters of one of the largest credit unions in the nation. Actually, it was longer than two hours. We were having so much fun chatting that we went about 15 minutes over.

And here is my thread with Ant (shared with permission):

AP: Was this a paid Roadmapping?

JS: Not at all. I offered no advice. It was purely research.

AP: Hmm, I’ve been taught that “best practise Roadmapping” is 90% listening and then the proposal is written off the back of that. I’m interested to know how you can justify a 2+ hour on site meeting with no payment. (I understand it was a big client etc. etc., but isn’t giving your time away for free demonstrating less value in their eyes?)

JS: I don’t sell time so “giving it away” has no bearing on my value.

AP: Ok - have to admit I’m confused about this conversation!

JS: Roger that. Mind if I quote your question for an email? There are probably other people would be interested in knowing the answer :-)

AP: I was hoping you would say that! Course I don’t mind :-)

Thanks Ant!

Okay, there are a few things I think are important to parse here:

  1. What is my definition of a roadmap?
  2. How do I justify my two hour time investment?
  3. Doesn’t giving away my time for free devalue me in the client’s eyes?

I’ll start with #1 today:

What is my definition of a roadmap?

I don’t know how other people do their roadmaps, but here’s how I do them:

How does a Roadmap differ from a Why Conversation?

Although the questions asked in a Why Conversation are very similar to the questions I ask on a roadmapping call, roadmaps and Why Convos are not the same thing. A roadmap delivers a lot of value to the client, a Why Conversation does not.

The value of a roadmap is the dramatic decrease of uncertainty. The client can now move forward toward their goals because they have clear instructions about what to do, what to avoid, how long things should take, and ways to get more info along the journey.

In a Why Conversation, the client’s uncertainty is NOT decreased. I’m the one doing most of the learning. I don’t usually give the client any prescriptive advice. I don’t speculate much about possible courses of action. At the end of a successful Why Conversation, the outcome is that we both have a better sense of whether we’re a good fit for the project at hand.

I’ll tackle question #2 tomorrow:

How do I justify my two hour time investment?



P.S. After doing roadmaps for a while, I started to notice several strong patterns. I compiled my most useful advice, instruction, templates and more into The Freelancer’s Roadmap, which will be available soon. It’s still early, but if you might be interested in TFR or you have questions, please hit reply and let me know. Cheers!