Being able to communicate complex plans can be one of the biggest challenges for you or your business especially if your audience is very large, located in multiple locations, speak different languages and may not even be part of your own organisation.
What are the challenges of communicating complex plans?
Looking at the figure above you can see there are many activities and tasks, which have interdependent relationships. It s complex, confusing and does not communicate the “message/story”.
As a result you cannot:
- See and understand the data in a meaningful way
- Make informed decisions
- Recognise critical relationship connects and their impact (good or bad)
- Use immediately without spending a lot of time (and cost) manually organising the data
- Keep it up to date and accurate
- Share the data with other people and organisations
- Trust the data due to the complexity and confusion
- Communicate the message clearly
But what steps can you take to ensure that you communicate effectively so that everyone understands your business strategy?
How a visual roadmap can help you
Visual roadmaps are an excellent way of taking your business plan or strategy and representing it all on one page.
Before you start your roadmapping you need to ask some questions and be clear as to the purpose of your roadmap, such as:
- Roadmaps are to inform, not impress. This is not about snazzy graphics and how cool it looks!
- It’s about conveying a message – who is your audience, what questions do you need to answer?
- How do we summarise into one page?
- How do we distil the information?
Below is a roadmap framework that you can use to start developing your visual roadmap.
Advantages of Visual Roadmaps
To take advantage of using a visual roadmap to create your business strategy roadmap or business IT strategy for example , you need to consider the following.
There are four key aspects to focus on when creating your roadmap.
- Frame – what goes inside the roadmap, what does the audience want
- Structure – this is laying out a grid into which you can be asking the Why, What, How and Where are we, How can we get there and Where do we want to go – the vision
- Relationships – understanding the dependencies and their impact
- Direction – this provides the key message in a natural flow of discovery and understanding
There are several types of roadmaps and methods for creating your roadmap but in all cases the four steps listed above need to be addressed.
Overall, roadmaps help you to structure the conversation that you want with your audience in a visual and simple way. That is not to say your roadmap is not complex but it needs to be framed in such a way that it can be viewed and consumed in what ever format your audience uses (paper, digital, online, poster etc).
The example below has used the meta data to immediately visualise the activities above in to a visual roadmap, with a focus on continuous manufacturing.
Types of Visual Roadmaps
The applications of roadmaps are varied and can include:
- business strategy
- marketing plan, business to business marketing
- science and technology
- business performance roadmapping
- small business
- products and services
They can also be forward looking or backward looking.
One last important point, roadmaps do not always tell you the future.
Being able to visualise that there is a gap or uncertainty at least tells everyone we have opportunities to shape the future, as you continue your journey along your roadmap.