Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach

Transformation Maps

August 31, 2013

“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 it?
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 the strategy/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.

When do you use it?
Use a transformation map when you want to agree and communicate the multiple components of your plan with your key stakeholders. This is best achieved in a workshop setting.

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.

The process of developing the Transformation Map with the appropriate stakeholders is as important as the map itself. In fact, simply presenting a finished map without significant stakeholder input and involvement will not have the same level of ownership or understanding or consensus, and therefore will not achieve the expected results.

Some companies use the Transformation Map routinely as part of their strategic planning process, and before their budgeting process begins, as a tool for prioritizing.

How do you use it?

Transformation Maps are best created with a group in a workshop-type setting.

Before the workshop:

  • 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.
  • Determine who will facilitate the workshop. As 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. If the workshop will have only a few people, it is a possibility that you might want to facilitate the meeting yourself.
  • Work with your facilitator to forecast how much time is required for the workshop and to prepare a draft of the materials as a starting point for the discussion.
  • Create a wall-sized Transformation Map template to be used in the workshop.
  • The facilitator should bring the template, post it notes, pens, and masking tape to the workshop.

During the workshop:

  • Agree the ultimate goal or vision with your stakeholder group. Document this goals or vision in the upper right hand corner of the page. Examples include: Double sales in 3 years or Increase market share by 50%.
  • Determine the length of time when this goal or vision is to be achieved. i.e. 3 years, 5 years, etc.
  • 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- 2011, Q2 – 2011, H2 – 2011, H1 – 2012, H2 – 2012, 2013. 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.
  • 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.
  • Discuss as a group which actions and milestones should occur and when, working backwards from the goal. Use post-it notes for the actions and milestones. This allows them to be moved freely during the discussion.
  • 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 articulate 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.

After the workshop:

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

Transformation Map

Transformation Map

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