Organizational Development Consultant

Back by popular demand: How and when to use Transformation Maps

January 31, 2018

“My leadership team and I have a pretty clear idea of where we want to be in the next 5 years, but don’t know exactly how to get there. There are so many issues and improvements to address. It’s hard to get our heads around them. What suggestions do you have?”

What is a Transformation Map?

A Transformation Map is a one page visual depiction of the plan for implementing a strategy or goal. It describes the major results, actions and milestones required to achieve your strategic goal, along with the expected timing of each of them. It is a tool to build alignment with your leadership team. And because it describes the components of the change, it de-mystifies the path forward. This is a great discussion and decision making tool for use in a workshop or strategy meeting. Its results are used to guide future actions and priorities.

Transformation Maps are best created with a group in a workshop-type setting. The process of developing the Transformation Map with the appropriate stakeholders is as important as the map itself. Simply presenting a finished map without significant stakeholder input and involvement will not have nearly the same level of ownership or understanding or consensus, and therefore will not achieve the same level of results.

An example of a Transformation Map is below.

After the decisions are agreed with your key stakeholders, the Transformation Map can be used as a visual aid when describing plans to wider audiences. However, because of its detailed nature, it is not a document that should be used as part of a presentation projected on the wall unless people have copies of it in front of them as well.

When to use a Transformation Map

  • When you want to agree and communicate the multiple components of your strategic plan with your key stakeholders. This is best achieved in a workshop setting
  • As part of your company’s strategic planning process, and before your budgeting process begins, as a tool for prioritizing

How to use a Transformation Map

Before the Meeting

  1. Determine who needs to attend the meeting. Be sure that all stakeholder groups are represented, even if they are not all on the same level of the organization.
  2. Determine who will facilitate the meeting. If you are the group’s leader, you will want to participate in the discussion, and it is very difficult to focus on the content of the discussion and facilitate at the same time. But if the meeting will have only a few people, it is a possibility that you might want to facilitate the meeting yourself.
  3. Forecast how much time is required for the meeting and to prepare a draft of the materials as a starting point for the discussion.
  4. Create a wall-sized Transformation Map template to be used in the meeting. A sample template is below. You will need to customize both the timeframes and the categories to suit your specific purpose.

a. Draft the goal or vision statement that will go in the top right corner.

b. Determine the length of time when this goal or vision is to be achieved. i.e. 3 years, 5 years, etc.

c. Determine the timeframes for the Transformation Map.   For example, if the time for achieving your goal is three years, your timeframes could be broken down as Q1- 2018, Q2 – 2018, H2 – 2018, H1 – 2019, H2 – 2019, 2020. There is usually a higher volume of activities and milestones as you begin. That is the purpose for the shorter timeframes at the beginning of your journey.

NOTE: Q1 refers to quarter 1 of the fiscal year.  H1 refers to the first half of the year.

d. Determine the categories for your map. These categories will change based on the nature of your goal or vision. For example: a supply chain project may include categories such as vendors, technology, customers, and organizational design. Choosing the right categories for your situation can be difficult. Don’t worry if you change them a few times. It is helpful to have draft categories in mind in advance as a starting point for the group’s discussion.

NOTE: You may want to use sticky notes to document your timeframes and categories so they can easily be changed based on feedback from your group.

  1. Bring the materials required to the meeting, i.e. the template, post it notes, pens, and masking tape.

During the Meeting

  1. Describe the purpose of the Transformation Map with your group. You might say for example: “In order to define and agree how we will reach our strategic goal, we will use a tool called a Transformation Map. The Transformation Map describes the major results, actions and milestones required to achieve your strategic goal, along with the expected timing of each of them.” Share an example of a Transformation Map if you think it will be helpful.
  2. Agree the ultimate goal or vision with your stakeholder group. Document this goal or vision in the upper right hand corner of the page. Examples include: Double sales in 3 years or Increase market share by 50%.
  3. Confirm the timeframes and categories you will use.

NOTE: At this point the timeframes and categories are academic since you haven’t started to use the framework yet. Don’t get too bogged down. If you need to, you can modify the timeframes and categories as you get into defining actions and milestones.

  1. Discuss as a group which actions and milestones should occur and when, working backwards from the goal. Use sticky notes for the actions and milestones. This allows them to be moved freely during the discussion.
  2. Watch for interdependencies between them, i.e. technology will need to be in place before a product launch can occur. Be conscious of the magnitude of each change i.e. which resources will be required, and for which period of time. Be sure to include projects that are already in process or planned to start in the future. You want a complete and realistic picture. Avoid unrealistic plans, but also balance the need for quickness.
  3. Agree with the group who will be accountable for each element of your transformation plan.  Chart your decisions and agreed-upon actions. Also agree your communication and follow up plan.

After the Meeting

  1. Communicate the plan outlined on your Transformation Map to the appropriate persons within your organization.
  2. Follow up on a regular basis to ensure that actions and milestones are achieved.

In Summary:

Transformation Maps are a great way to gain alignment with key stakeholders about the integrated plan to achieve a long term goal.

Before the Meeting

  1. Determine who needs to attend the meeting.
  2. Determine who will facilitate the meeting.
  3. Forecast how much time is required.
  4. Create a wall-sized Transformation Map template.
  5. Bring the materials required to the meeting.

During the Meeting

  1. Describe the purpose of the Transformation Map with your group.
  2. Agree the ultimate goal or vision.
  3. Confirm the timeframes and categories you will use.
  4. Discuss as a group which actions and milestones should occur and when, working backwards from the goal. Use sticky notes for the actions and milestones.
  5. Watch for interdependencies. Avoid unrealistic plans, but also balance the need for quickness.
  6. Agree with the group who will be accountable for each element of your transformation plan.

After the Meeting

  1. Communicate the plan.
  2. Follow up on a regular basis to ensure that actions and milestones are achieved.

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