Communicating Complex Plans with Visual Roadmaps – 4 Easy Steps to Effective Results

Fig 1: Complex Plans

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.  Online collaboration software can go some way to overcome these challenges.  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
  • How do we summarise into one page
  • How do we distill the information

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.

  1. Frame –  what goes inside the roadmap, what does the audience want
  2. 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
  3. Relationships – understanding the dependencies and their impact
  4. 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, online, poster etc).

The applications of roadmaps are varied and can include:

  • business strategy
  • marketing plan, business to business marketing
  • science and technology
  • business performance roadmapping
  • innovation
  • small business
  • sales
  • products and services

the end user applications are endless.  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.

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