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I originally posted this story about the development of the product planning infographic back in 2016 at my site. This was one my attempts to tell five years of product planning in a single graphic.
You can find the original here and a lot more product leadership blogs that I wrote in 2016-2017.

I love information. I need useful information as a product leader.

Getting Organized

It takes the organization of data to give a leader the information that we need to make effectively make decisions. We have more data today than ever and simply not enough time to pull it together to improve our decision-making process.

I stumbled into data visualization out of necessity over a decade ago.

I’m a visual learner like many. I have had to build manually many of the visuals that I use today because what I want doesn’t meet the complex environments that I work in on a daily basis. Plus, I like to be a little unique in my approach.

Graphs are nice. They are a quick way to do some nitty gritty information sharing.

I’m not a formally trained designer by any means, but I know what inspires me. Graphs must evolve.

Too many cookie-cutter approaches to information display, and we all end up with bland spreadsheets and graphs. Blah!

Take Notice

When someone sees something new that is interesting the first time, we take notice. Hence the proliferation of Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Facebook, et. al. Or how about the first Tesla or self-driving Google car?

So, what do you think about my latest supergraphic example for product leaders?

Next5 Product Planning Roadmap

It is light on the legend because I want users to take it in visually first. I know that I am displaying a significant amount of information in a single 4:3 slide format in this example.

It is a LARGE amount of information. Implementation revenue, MRR, investment, profit, expense, effort, user growth, etc…

In fact, the environment highlights shared time on projects by the individuals which is simply not a level of detail that most would go into.

I did.

The Genesis (my “Why?”) of this graphic is that I needed a way to show a 5-year plan. The infographic was my attempt at that for my team.

Be Inspired by Something

It could easily be adapted to show the next six months of about anything for any product. In this example for one of my enterprise software-as-a-service applications, I’ve chosen to obfuscate the real metrics I used in my recent presentation of the information. I’m channeling my inner visual magician with smoke and mirrors so I can share it with you today–in case you are wondering these numbers are definitely not real.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, so I looked first to see if one of my applications I use (like for which I am an affiliate in the off chance someone wants to follow the link) would already have something I could use. I found something similar but ultimately decided to build my own.

Hopefully, you are inspired by the graphic I created above on how you might do something similar for your product. That is where many of my ideas come from–seeing others design.

So, I’m doing my part today by sharing. The other graphic was my muse from the pros.


Big Goal: Buildings and Shadows

The original goal was to show in a clean format the cash flow in/out, team needs and expected expenses planned over the next five years.

In the product planning roadmap supergraphic I have the following information:

Buildings on the Left
Investment or profit is the height rising above timeline
Monthly Recurring Revenue is the depth
Implementation Revenue is the width

Shadows on the Right
User Growth
Product Expenses
Team Members
Employee Allocations
Growth Wish List

Does anything stand out to you as you peruse my attempt to visualize the information?

If it does, please leave it in the comments below. I want to improve, so I enjoy your feedback

Doing More

As the visual designer, some datasets might not work as you expect–like information height could hide depth or shadows might not be representative of height. I also realize that some of my art won’t make it on display if it does not work with my dataset.

My two cents of advice if it does not work–simply keep doing more. I could have added some additional details today, but I did not want to get too far down in the weeds. Sometimes less is better in words and visuals.

Einstien said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

I hope this inspires you and that you can share your favorite graphics too as we make sense of more datasets in business and life.

Happy visualizing!
Brian Stout

About the Author: Brian has never stopped playing with crayons and folding scraps of paper since was a kid. He is known to scribble and doodle out pictures during meetings–especially if they are boring. Make your information stand out. Brian is also an entrepreneur who likes to write blogs, articles, and books. The Pedigree: Brian has an undergraduate degree in Psychology, an MBA in Marketing & Finance, and is working on Masters in Data Science with a concentration in Data Visualization. Brian also works for a non-profit in Indianapolis to help improve the health in healthcare using software and services and provide healthcare insurance for his family. 🙂