Posted by TBO Admin

Oct 28, 2013 12:38:00 PM

Gary Skarke (
Linda Wilson (


Blueprint Purpose: Producing a blueprint (a.k.a. playbook or reference guide) for strategy implementation is a powerful and useful communication tool for group mobilization. It is a tangible symbol that represents a multitude of activities, decisions, commitments and expectations that have been analyzed, debated, refined and agreed upon in order to produce the blueprint.

The scope of impact for your strategy implementation will likely determine whether you do some or all of the steps. It is important to understand that producing a well-received, well-used blueprint is just like executing a major project or building a grand estate – the more you prepare, the fewer steps you skip, the better your chances of having your dream house.

1. Creating the Blueprint
    a. Validate leadership commitment to your strategy blueprint, both the product and the plan to utilize it
    b. Validate vision and strategy definition; identify priority initiatives/projects for first year or two
    c. Conduct stakeholder and user forums to ‘translate’ vision and strategy and validate high priority        
       1) Create opportunities for input and feedback
       2) Surface issues and red flags early on … and begin dealing with them
       3) Establish common understanding for moving forward
       4) Generate agreement on approach  Note: Many details will be missing at this point, so you at least want to get agreement on ‘intent’ when 'content’ may not be fully developed; 
     5) Gain initial buy-in  
       6) Identify and recruit some influential champions
    d. Establish roles for blueprint/strategy communication among key leaders, other stakeholders and champions
    e. Determine person/team responsible for writing and designing the blueprint (may be impacted/complicated by decisions on translations and formats) and for blueprint-related messaging; establish performance criteria and incentives for success
Note: This is not a job for the corporate communications group alone, although they should definitely be represented on the team. This is a job for high performers in operational roles, representing various functions that are implementing strategy.

2. Publishing & Distributing the Blueprint
    a. Determine language(s)
    b. Determine versions (e.g., internal version, external version for partners/suppliers, external version for investors and analysts, etc.) and procedure for version control
    c. Determine distribution channels (e.g., print version, company Intranet, webinar/webcast, CD/DVD/other digital format, etc.)
    d. Develop production schedule, including procedure and responsibility for proofing, coordinating and authorizing printing/uploading
    e. Develop communication plan (audiences, messengers, means of communication, key messages, means for feedback) and review with stakeholders
    f. Communicate release schedule and key messages to messengers
    g. Create supporting materials for release (e.g., ‘suggestions for distributing playbook’ to accompany print version; ‘now available’ log-on banner for intranet release, etc.)

3. Promoting the Blueprint
    a. Develop supporting materials and events for launch and post-launch (e.g., strategy ‘pocket card,’ mini-blueprint fold-outs, blueprint team webinars/webcasts)
    b. Develop and execute strategy launch program (e.g., road show, videoconference, regional meeting, etc.)
       1) Validate key executive participation
       2) Create talking points and supporting materials (e.g., PPT slides)
    c. Conduct management roll-out – formal one-on-one or small group meetings to review plan and expectations in group-relevant detail and to establish agreement with and active support for implementation plan within their work groups
    d. Conduct one-on-one contracting sessions – formal one-on-one or small group meetings with immediate supervisors that take place after management roll-out to review plan and expectations in group-relevant detail and to stimulate critical thinking and action from each employee on how they will be involved in plan execution
    e. Implement communications program with external stakeholders (generally executed by leadership and managers who have relationships with the stakeholders)

4. Measuring Blueprint Effectiveness
Just like an architect can look at installations and other performance stats to assess how well a blueprint is working, you will want to develop some means for periodic assessment. Generally this involves three levels of measurement:
    a. Level 1: Communication effectiveness – simple surveys to assess understanding of the strategy and blueprint (e.g., are level and means of communication adequate, what is the level of confidence that implementation will be successful, how well is management seen to be supporting projects, etc.)
    b. Level 2: Action/activity and decision impact – based on stage of implementation, what work activities, procedures, roles, performance measures are visibly changing and what is the impact, quantitatively and qualitatively (e.g., Start-Stop-Continue exercise)
    c. Level 3: Implementation performance scorecard – usually these key progress and results measures are established with the steering/executive committee responsible for implementation oversight and reported periodically as agreed

5. Updating the Blueprint
Blueprints are living documents. Inevitably some things will change over a major implementation. Blueprints in published form should be reviewed on an annual basis, at a minimum, for updating. If changes are substantial, you may want to reprint them – Version 2.0, 3.0, etc – each year. By their nature, electronic versions can and should be updated routinely as changes occur, and a special note sent to stakeholders and impacted groups explaining the changes.

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Topics: Strategy Development & Deployment

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