Strategic initiatives are often focused on internal improvements to organizations. This article develops a mapping analogy recognizing the landscape for improving performance.
All maps serve the same basic purpose: to orient the user to the surrounding “landscape” so that the user can identify routes and select the one that best meets their requirements for speed, safety, ease, and cost, among others. Good maps have a number of common features: they use consistent names of landmarks so that users can communicate effectively, and the scale of the map is clear. Maps can be simple schematics or more dynamic to allow the user to zoom into the details.
An improvement map depicts the terrain that the organization must navigate to get from “here” to “there.” A good improvement map will help the user see the big picture, but also show a suitable level of detail. A good improvement map will help the navigator recognize the numerous potential routes of improvement, and select the optimal one. Thus, it is an orientation tool, rather than a set of instructions. Finally, a good map will enable the management team to “zoom” into a selected element, and consider details about what decisions and actions are most appropriate. Continuing the analogy, your coach is your guide who holds and reads the compass for you, until you are ready to go solo.
Rather than seeing the improvement map as a tool, my experience shows that most people prefer to use it as a guiding metaphor to stay oriented to the critical work.
Here is a list of important improvement map elements :
- Understandable assumptions
- A vision of ‘the destination’
- Sustained leadership
- A supporting coalition of stakeholders
- Identification of problem boundaries and root causes
- Routes to a solution
- Recognition of barriers and dynamics
- Learning-as-we-go outlook
- Relevant and timely metrics
In your experience, which of these are the most important? What are the benefits of an integrated approach to organizational change?