As a result of an innovative thinking class assignment to improve at least one way the company has been doing business, the CEO of Elzinga & Volkers developed a way to visually communicate company goals.
The result, “mapping,” has been used as a primary form of communication for more than three years and continues to improve. Dubbed uMaps, a map is created with a company’s expectations for each individual by including the professional expectations and personal goals, and is used to guide discussions during performance reviews held at multiple times throughout the year. “Success mapping” has been used for individual projects, departments and divisions. “Mapping” has provided an outline for unique, employee-centered discussions and a memorable layout for retaining the information.
The CEO’s 30-week “Innovation Management” program showed him how to use the tools to build a mapping program that improves the way companies do business. Each participant in the program was challenged to specifically connect each employee to their companies strategic and business plans while also identifying both personal and professional aspirations for each member of the team.
The first step to the challenge was to simplify the strategic plan into a one-page graphic depicting the desired direction of the company. The goal was to use “visual communication” to paint the picture and tell the story, because after all, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The same mapping was done with a company’s business plan, with each section of the plan boiled down to one graphic-filled page depicting corporate goals. At Elzinga & Volkers, 58 pages of black and white text were reduced to six pages of story-telling images and the response was overwhelmingly positive. These two documents were named the BP Maps and SP Maps.
This is where the uMaps come in. As the power of visually communicating the goals of the company became apparent, one-page, visually oriented documents that each employee co-developed with his or her peers and team leader were introduced to the staff. The vision for this document was that each employee would hold a map to what the specific expectations were for them as it related to business goals.
The 11 x 17 individual uMap is packed with information. At the very center is a personal Brand Icon, specifically developed by each employee to describe graphically who they are and what they are passionate about, making it unique to the each individual. Surrounding this icon are the following sections:
- Commitment Statement – what the employee is held accountable to do (broadly) in their corporate role;
- Top Five Responsibilities – employees work with people above and below them; the list shares with others how the employee feels they are able to work towards the greater good of the BP Maps and SP Maps;
- Training and Guidance – outlines individual training needs and mentors the individual relies on for success as well as any mentees they might have;
- Key Performance Indicators – co-developed with the individual’s Team Leader and expressly designed to tie back to the company’s quarterly and annual goals;
- Committee Assignments – each person serves on multiple committees that help to move the organization forward towards its goals while raising community and corporate awareness;
- My Goals – employees list personal, family and business goals for one, three and five years out in matrix form (not to be used as a scare tactic or a way to earmark success but to be used as a tool for management to encourage employees towards accomplishing their listed goals); and
- Other –the employee’s date of hire, favorite famous quote and family information is included to round out the map. Finally, with safety being a major concern in the construction industry, we also ask them to address on their uMap how they will positively influence it with a specific statement.
Through this initiative, employees and the company alike know what is expected; from laborer to CEO, all members of the team have outlined their part in contributing to the company’s success, and there is no longer an unclear understanding of roles and expectations. Using mapping, companies have become much more effective at attaining goals and employees are happier due to the absence of false expectations. The impact this initiative has had on the company’s success has been incredible; and all of this was born from a simple assignment to “improve at least one way the company has been doing business.”