Preparing For The Journey Ahead

I want to take a moment with this post and reflect on some of the journey maps I have created over the years. What I want to share is not what I have learned about the creation of these maps and the thinking behind them, rather what I have observed from the many persons and organizations that have filled these maps.

The first thing that I became aware of is the approach by most organizations as compared to individuals. Organizations usually view the map as a process of events needing to be filled or checked off as these milestone are reached. Only until they are deep in the strategy of the map do they begin to understand that the journey is not about going from point A to point B, but about the whole process working holistically throughout. In comparison, individuals tend to approach the map more a scheme of a big picture concept. This, of course, is the truer purpose of the process.

I have come to believe that the reasoning behind this is directly related to scale of viewer and the ability to answer the first questions on the map. The larger the number of viewers involved in the maps development, the more difficult the consensus as to the correct or right response. An individual or small group interact on a more intimate level and are able to approach the task with less difficulty.

Below is the first part of a typical journey map that I use. The focus will be on the lower left corner around the point “Start Here.”

Half workedsm

This small corner of the map produces the deepest content and the most abundant conversations. Though it may seem small, it is the cornerstone of the whole journey map development and the core to the strategic thinking behind the process. The cloudy area is mostly the tactics to achieve what is created in this area.

The first question that is presented is very straight forward, ‘Who are we today?” How would you describe yourself to others. Once this is established the more challenging task begins through a deeper exploration or extension of this idea. Here is where I have witness larger organization begin demonstrating their organizational silos that cloud or confuse the true identity of an organization and the ability to successfully define themselves today and for tomorrow. Individuals and small groups do a better job at this point, but not by much.

The point on the map that I am referring to is just right of the starting point. This is what I commonly call the success statement. I will keep this very generalized for brevity. How do they define success? What does it look like, sound like and feel like when it will be reached? Yet the bigger question is “Why is this success important? What purpose does your success fulfill for others?” Finally, “How will you know when you have achieved it?”

It is these fundamental questions that will lead the a viewer along the path and define the course they will need to follow. Before anyone can begin a journey, a person or an organization must know clearly where they are to begin. Once the starting point is established, then the course can be set.

Here or some key observations I have gathered over the years.

Defining Success

I have realized that many who start planning a journey or strategic plan rarely define what success will be when they achieve the goal they establish. If you don’t know what success will be for your journey, how will you ever know when you are successful? Nor will you know when you get diverted from your course if you can’t see the markers along the way. Here is a wonderful article from USA Today back in 2011 about defining success.


“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

Individuals and organizations, no matter what they do or offer, struggle to clearly define the ‘Why’ of their existence. What purpose do they challenge themselves with that drives them? very few companies or individuals know their ‘Why’. those who do, are usually leaders in their field, industry or lives. A great note on this subject comes from Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why.”


When you can define your purpose and understand why you are doing what you do, then you need a mechanism to measure your progress. This is where answering “Who you want to become” and the completion of the rest of the map becomes both your guide and your rule. Maintaining a measurement tool is the hardest part of achieving success for most. I believe it is simply comes from daily distraction. What is amazing though is that I have seen some very interesting responses when people realize how simple of an idea this is. I and probably yourself, have been told many times by many people who ‘we can not be sure we have achieved success unless we measure our progress.’ A good note is from on measuring performance.

My Advice to Myself and Others

So, before you begin your next journey or create a journey map for a client, I offer these five steps to ensure a clear well-defined big picture.

First, clearly visualize who you are.

Second, understand and clearly state your ‘Why.’

Third, define what success is and how it will manifest itself when it comes.

Fourth, have a clear picture of who or what you want to become.

And last, measure your progress to avoid loosing your way.

Good luck and travel safely along your journey path.

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