Influence to be effective as a leader

Motivate and inspire people from a position of influence rather than authority.

For most of my career, I was responsible for one or various departments within the organization. During that time, I share a vision with my team and work alongside them to make it a reality.  When things did not go as planned, I always had the option to use my authority to change course.  But when I started to learn about continuous improvement, I realize that CI is a peoples’ system.  The leaders’ job is to care about your team and help them grow and learn new skills.  Therefore, you do not want to use your authority to achieve things.  You want to use influence to motivate and inspire your team.  In other words, I had to learn how to use my authority less and use my influence power more.  

Influence as an effective way to gain followers

Effective leaders must be able to influence others’ behaviors.  Power is the ability to influence others to behave in a particular way.  When leaders are looking for support, the right way to gain it is from a position of influence rather than authority. Using your influence power, you can motivate your team and inspire them to learn and do new things.

What you need to be able to influence

When you are not honest, many people can see it through you.  Therefore, if you want to motivate people from an influence position, honesty is a critical ingredient.  Be authentic and sincere about your intention and goals.  Convince people to collaborate by explaining to them the complete picture. First, communicate why you want to do it.  Second, explain the pros and cons of the proposal.  Third, let them know what is in it for them.  That information is always critical to gain support.

A good leader practices those behaviors or attitudes that he or she is asking the team to have.  Be fair and flexible, do not ask the team to do something that you are not willing to.  Roll up your sleeves and work alongside them to figure out the best way to do it.

The future is in your hands

Provide your team with the goal, a collective vision of where the company will be in the future.  Once they know the target, empower them to find answers by themselves.  Coach them to find those answers but let them figure them out.  Remind them of the vision to ensure alignment between those goals and the company’s vision.

Your actions determine the future of the company.  The way you choose priorities and work to achieve targets is critical to success.  Moreover, how do you treat your team is the secret ingredient for a successful company.  Motivate and inspire from a position of influence rather than using your rank in the organization.

Overcommunicate to prevent problems, right?

Overcommunication is used with specific information to keep the team focus and aligned

I once had a conversation with a seasoned manager who proudly explained different ways his company uses to prevent problems.  One of them strikes my attention and curiosity.  He claimed that they overcommunicate to make sure things go as planned. 

What overcommunication means?

When I asked what he means by overcommunication, his explanation left me worried.  For instance, his definition was indeed what it is not.  Dumping all kinds of information through countless emails, oversharing, or repeating instructions while checking performance is not the right way to do it.  

First, over-communication is not a way to share all kinds of things.  It is used only to clarify and reinforcing critical information.  For example, to convey instructions or concerns during crisis times, top priorities, and the company vision.  Second, it is about communicating the right things effectively.  In other words, in a clear, consistent way, promoting collaboration between teams.  By sharing the right things frequently, you ensure alignment between the company vision and the daily operations.

Overcommunicate prevent problems, right?

When you over-communicate in the right way, it is possible to prevent problems.  However, when what you are doing is oversharing or micromanaging, the results are different.  The team can feel distracted by too much information, overwhelmed, or frustrated.  And they have all the right to feel that way because that behavior is disrespectful.  The team will respond much better if you convey the information effectively.  If you want them to remember the company’s core values and vision, become a model of those behaviors.  Also, incorporate the enterprise vision in what you do and become a coach.

Communicate right, do not overcommunicate

Excessive communication is not the right way to prevent problems.  Effective communication is the right way to ensure everybody receives and understands the same message.  When you disseminate critical information frequently enough, people will know that it is meaningful.  Over time, they will start to use it, and the result is alignment between values and daily actions such as problem-solving, project selection, and others.

Start with why while breaking the news

While launching a new project or initiative. always start explaining why you want to do it.

When a company is launching something new, it is common to have the CEO or the owner breaking the news.  Sometimes, the enthusiasm and clarity of the information given are not enough to guarantee success. People need to know why before committing to do something.

To get support, start with why

Sometimes it is not easy to understand the reasons for a change.  However, knowing what inspired it helps to get that understanding.  For the leader, that inspiration comes from a vision of the future.  That vision stems from a belief that it is possible to reach an unreachable limit or carry out that impossible idea.  The strong desire to make that vision a reality is his or her why.  

That inspiration comes from the heart, from their values and beliefs.  People connect through common feelings, ideas, and values.  For that reason, explaining why you want to do that is the best way to get support.

Explain why to achieve your vision success 

I learned about the power of starting with why from Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why.  He explained the human need to belong and the connection between that and the success of some companies.  Sinek defines why as a purpose, cause, or belief, the reason for the organization to exist.  Also, he explains that when a company communicates their why, and we believe in the same thing, we include their products or services in our lives.  We do that because they symbolize values or beliefs we share with them.  

It works also with any initiative or project

Using Sinek’s book as inspiration, I incorporated my purpose or vision as part of a new initiative or project launching.  Our team needs to know why we are doing what we are doing.  They need to learn or recognize the connection between the company values and the purpose of the new project.

Getting support for the new project or program is easier when team members can see how their work influences it.  In other words, how they can contribute to the company’s vision.  If your team believes in the company values, they will believe in that vision and will contribute to it.

The why of the project is the purpose for that project or initiative to exist.  What customers’ pain points the project address.  Explain the why simply so it is easier for your team to relate.  Once they understand the vision and see how it marries the company values and beliefs, they will commit.

The purpose or why is the true north.  It becomes the compass that will guide you and your team throughout the execution of the project.  Having this guidance during the entire journey will keep everybody focused on the end goal.  Also, it will ensure alignment with the company’s purpose or reason to exist.

What can derail your transformation effort?

what can derail your transformation

Currently, I am planning a complete site assessment.  It is a preliminary step before the creation of the transformation roadmap.   While working on it, I couldn’t help but remember an experience I had various years ago.  During that time, I was the leader of the continuous improvement transformation. Despite my best effort, it was not successful.  What did I do wrong?  Where did we fail as a team?  Some years passed and quite some reflection time as well before I realized what derailed that effort.  What can derail the transformation?

Not understanding what you are getting into might derail your transformation.

There are various misconceptions regarding continuous improvement.  As a result, many entrepreneurs decide to start their journey believing some of them.  For instance, many times, the reason to initiate the effort is cited as costs reduction.  Here are some misconceptions that can derail the transformation.

Continuous improvement is not a cost reduction initiative.  Furthermore, it is not a tools supermarket where you can pick and choose what you like.  CI or lean is not a one-size-fits-all approach.  It is different for each company, even for each site.  The transformation is not fast or straightforward.  For instance, it is a slow process with moments of success followed by setbacks. Also, it is common to have times with total clarity of purpose followed by thousands of doubts.  The lack of understanding of all these facts soon will become challenges that leadership is not prepared to deal with.

To overcome the inevitable challenges, leadership needs to understand that lean is a people’s system. CI is not about using tools.  The company culture needs to change its focus from financial profit to their people’s development and customer satisfaction.  The transformation from traditional to continuous improvement requires being humble and courageous.  It is not easy to be vulnerable and willing to expose your weaknesses as a leader.  Neither is to let go of the control of the day-to-day operation.  

Misalignment between company goals and continuous improvement

Traditionally, company goals are different for each department.  Therefore, each team member will work towards department goals that do not promote collaboration.  This type of goal perpetuates the silo mentality, which is a CI thinking killer.

In a continuous improvement environment, the goal is to provide the customer with the highest quality, at a lower cost, in the shortest amount of time.   For that reason, the collective goals focus on productivity, quality, cost, delivery time, safety, and morale.  People from different departments collaborate to achieve those goals.    

Not having the top leadership buy-in will derail the transformation

The buy-in and support from leadership are key for a successful CI journey.  Their support is critical to building the CI fundamentals into the company culture.  Alignment between KPI’s and metrics with the company goals is crucial for success.  Leadership is responsible for ensuring this happens, and therefore CI focus will be the right one.  

A unified front from this group will help overcome the challenges, setbacks, and resistance to change. One of their responsibilities will be to learn the continuous improvement fundamentals and tools and teach their team. They become students and teachers, modeling the new behaviors and focusing on long-term strategy instead of day-to-day decisions.


Knowing what can derail your company’s culture transformation is the first step to avoid those mistakes.  Educate yourself and your team before starting your journey.  Learn about the elements for a successful continuous improvement transformation.  Perhaps, it is a good idea to find a responsible and CI transformation seasoned person to help.

Good communicators listen, are you a good listener?

Are you a good listener?

Continuous improvement and lean need effective communication for its success.  Lean is a people-centric system, which means that the way you treat and communicate with people is critical for success.  Therefore, for a successful continuous improvement journey, you need to be a good communicator.  One of the characteristics of good communicators is that they listen.  Are you a good listener?

When you go out to the office, shop floor, or construction site, AKA gemba, you ask questions to understand what is happening.  However, you can ask good questions, but if you don’t listen, you are missing the point of visiting gemba.

What is a good listener?

Many people believe that being a good listener is let the other person talk without interruptions. Furthermore, nod or repeat a few words.  It is a common belief that a good listener repeats a few words to confirm that you understand.  But a good listener does more than that.

Continuous improvement fosters an environment of learning and discovery.  Asking the right questions helps to promote curiosity and observation.  Leaders are expected to teach and guide their team through questions.  Good communicators are thoughtful about the questions they ask.  The purpose is to understand and help the speaker to gain a deeper understanding of the situation.  In addition, you want to guide them to uncover more details.  For example, think about the priorities or benefits versus risks. 

A good listener uses active listening

Active listening occurs when you suppress the need to dominate the conversation or provide ways to solve problems.  Instead, you listen and focus on the speaker.  Be empathic with the other person.  Notice the speaker’s body language, tone, and emotions while it speaks.  Recognize the implication of the words by understanding how he/she feels.  

Create a safe environment to have an honest conversation.  Listen with curiosity and ask questions to understand.  Also, watch your body language.  For instance, maintain eye contact and use appropriate gestures.  Show respect by keeping your whole attention on the speaker. 

But there is more to it than listening and asking questions

In addition to asking questions, there is something more a good listener does.  A conversation is an exchange of ideas.  Clarify your doubts and restate their thought to confirm that you understand.  Provide feedback to keep the conservation going.  However, resist the urge to tell what to do.  Build upon the speaker’s ideas, help them to build their self-esteem. Answer their questions honestly and clarify their doubts.

Listening and cultural transformation

Effective communication at every stage of cultural transformation is crucial.  People need to know what, why, how, when, and who.  During the process, leadership work to facilitate the team’s work and develop their skills.  To increase their engagement, daily Gemba walks supported with effective communication are key.  

The team needs to know what the problem is and what you want to accomplish with a continuous improvement strategy.  Moreover, leadership needs to listen to what the team has to say.  If you don’t practice active listening and do something upon the subject of that conversation, the transformation will be broken.

Lean champions, who are they?

Every activity, movement, or new initiative needs advocates, people that support and promote the cause.  Continuous improvement or lean is not the exception.  The journey to transform the company will be easier if you have lean champions in your team.

Why you need them?

As we plan the continuous improvement rollout, we spend a lot of time on how to earn the trust of our employees.  During previous years, most of the staff changed.  At the time the plant changed its business operation model, many people retired.  For that reason, we hired new supervisors and managers.   The concern of the most senior members of the staff was that people could have trust issues.

Accept changes is never easy, especially when you tell people with an average of 22 years on the job that they will learn new ways to do it.  Knowing all the changes from the previous year, how could they trust that we were not trying to fire people?  Our lean coach suggested identifying team members known for being natural leaders to help.  People feel at ease with trusted leaders.  Therefore, they come into the conversation with less apprehension.  An advocate that is considered trustworthy by the team is the best way to gain their attention.

What are lean champions?

A lean champion is an advocate for the continuous improvement journey.  He or she knows the tools and helps others to use them.  Moreover, they promote lean thinking not only with words but with their actions.  In general, they will work closely with their coworkers to identify areas for improvement.  Also, they will guide and support the implementation of improvement ideas.  Most of the time, champions know the process very well and have experience in different functions.  That experience helps them to ask the right questions and guide their coworkers to learn.  However, it is not critical to be a subject matter expert.  

This group is more than promoters for the lean cause.  They will assist in continuous improvement events or even facilitate them.  Of course, they will need a coach to learn the ropes of the trade before going solo.

Lean champions may have different levels of experience, education, and qualifications.  People with previous continuous improvement experience are candidates to be champions.   However, not having experience in lean is not a deterrent to being a champion.  After all, continuous improvement is not about using tools but about the people and their learning experience.  For that reason, there are some characteristics or traits that have more weight than knowing the tools.

What are the characteristics of the lean champions?

Attitude and communication skills are among the most meaningful characteristics of members of this group.  They are positive people with the ability to adapt, avid learners, and enjoy helping others. Their communication skills are above average.  They can express ideas and simply and clearly.  Also, they can adapt their communication to different audiences. 

Honesty, integrity, consistency, and empathy are critical character traits for members of this group. Champions do what they say and have no problem admitting they don’t know something.  Of course, they have a strong will to succeed.  But also, they can cope with challenges and setbacks.  The ability to step back for a second to see the big picture and reflection as a learning tool is part of their skills.  

Lean champions don’t need to have any leadership positions.  The best I worked with were team members with a strong desire to learn and contribute to the company’s success.  Also, they have their egos under control and value the power of teamwork and collaboration.  These people don’t look to be in the spotlight at all times, although they feel comfortable doing it.

Team communication, how do you know it needs to improve?

team communication

While I was facilitating a problem-solving session in a client facility, I noticed that something was wrong.  We were discussing the possible causes for the problem under analysis.  Three team members were very active in the discussion providing thoughtful ideas.  However, the rest of the group was either silent or being sarcastic.  Another person was constantly interrupting others while yelling.  I ask the event sponsor if those behaviors were normal, and he said they were.  He didn’t see it that way, but the team’s behavior was asking for help.  Those actions were a symptom of a deeper problem.  That is, team communication needed improvement.

How do you know team communication needs to improve?

The situation described above contains several signs that indicate the team communication is poor.  When a team cannot collaborate, productivity and quality can affect the company’s bottom line.  Therefore, it is a priority to learn how to identify those signs and fix them.

Despite having technical knowledge, the company from the example hire me as the facilitator.  The reason is that they have not been able to get the expected results.  

Be on the lookout for these signs

Over the week, I had multiple individual conversations with team members and the sponsor.  As a result, I identify several behaviors that affect communication.  All of them are signs of ineffective team communication.  

Confusion regarding responsibilities or priorities leads to frustration.  As a result, you can see duplicate work, missed deadlines, or not getting expected results.  In turn, those results create disappointment, anger, and more frustration.  When this happens, it is common to see disrespect as part of the culture.  For example, you can see rude reactions, demeaning communication, and finger-pointing.

People deal with frustration in different ways.  Sometimes, even when they are silent, their demeanor screams disagreement.  Team communication is failing when you sense that people have concerns but never voice their opinion.  Likewise, if they constantly interrupt the conversation or scream to ensure their voice is heard.  Another sign is when team members feel the need to compete against each other all the time.  At the same time, there is no collaboration.

How to improve team communication

Effective communication is one of the critical elements for a successful continuous improvement journey.  Another element is the cultural transformation from traditional to lean thinking.  A culture that values respect and teamwork fosters creativity and collaboration.  

People need to know how their work connects with the company goals.  Also, they need to understand how their actions affect the customers and business growth.  Knowing that information is easier to understand why collaboration is critical to the success of the company.  When the company is still in the early steps of the transformation, it is natural for some individuals to push back.  However, as soon as you notice behaviors like those previously indicated, it is time to enforce the new expectations.  Nothing demoralized the team more than seeing their leaders tolerating disrespectful actions.

5S every day, not just once a month!

5S every day

A colleague who works in logistics is responsible for two warehouses in the same city.  Both sites have been implementing 5S.  One of them has been successful, while the other is not.  He asks me how it is possible to have different results.  Although both locations received the same training and support, their implementation approach was different.  Only one of those teams was practicing 5S every day.  

Change behaviors to do 5S every day

Have you ever tried to lose weight?  How well did it go?  I tried many times with no sustainable results until I learn what I was doing wrong.  Each time I failed; I was following a diet.  I treated my weight loss as individual events with a common goal.  However, healthy eating is for every day, not for special occasions.   It wasn’t until I change my eating habits that were able to lose weight for good.

Like with weight loss, 5S will not be successful until people build new behaviors.  Get used to putting things back in their place immediately after use takes time.  After all, it’s easier to leave things where you last used them.  The problem is to remember where that was.  For sustainable results, you have to change that behavior by creating new habits.

5S is an activity to practice every day, throughout the day.  Before launching the program, leadership needs to agree on how to achieve the fifth S, sustain.  The effort requires the participation of all site leaders.  Everybody needs to walk the workplace every day to verify cleanliness and organization conditions.  If shadow boards have empty spots, it means that tools are out of place.  If the material is missing from their allocated staging floor areas, it means that material is missing.  For instance, those examples represent future problems, either searching time or delays.

How to create the habits

While setting up the materials and equipment, work on how to create new habits.  Ask the team how they could trigger the desired response.  Once they finish work, what will trigger putting the tools or equipment back on their location.  

For example, empty printer cartridges go inside a labeled box in the office supply room.  However, some people throw them in the trash or leave them in their office or cubicle.  To build the habit, add how to dispose of the cartridge as part of the instructions to change it.  Also, include what the trigger would be for this action.  For instance, a good time would be the completion of the printer testing.  After confirmation that the printer is working, take the old cartridge to its designated location.  The problem is that most people would decide to move it to a location later.  And then, they don’t remember.  

Sometimes, people convince themselves that it is better to put things back in their place at the end of the shift.   Ask questions to understand why they think that way.  Where they leave them throughout the day?  Are there any safety hazards?  Are they wasting time searching for them?  Maybe the designated area is not the best.  By working with the team to understand their reasons and creating a plan together, sustainability will have a better chance.  

At times, like in the printer cartridge example, it makes sense to compromise.  For example, have a mailbox by the door or entrance.  They see it while walking out, take it, and move it to its place.

After launching the program, sustain it with 5S every day

That is the difference between the warehouse teams.  One group completed all the kick-off event preparation in detail.  After that, they completed the first three steps, leaving the areas with temporary marks.  They planned to test locations and quantities before making them permanent. The problem is the responsible parties never follow-up.  At that time, those temporary marks became permanent.  And then, when things didn’t go as planned, people were discouraged to continue.

At the same time, the other team follows similar planning and initial execution steps.  The only difference was that as part of their plan, they agreed on triggers for 5S activities.  The senior supervisor and his team had on their leader standard work a daily 5S walk.  They also had a board where they mark their visits and top three observations.  This information was part of the daily huddle meetings.   Also, the leadership group makes a point to acknowledge at least one positive comment every day.  That simple action helps to enforce the desired behavior.  For instance, supervisors celebrate each program milestone and recognize groups or individuals that achieve their 5S goals.

Forklift operators and clerks have their triggers for 5S activities as well.  For example, lunch break is one of the triggers for the operators.  With this one, they know it is time to park and charge their truck in one of the designated spaces.  

By identifying what will signal the start of each 5S task, the group initiates to build the habit of doing 5S every day, all day.  This way, their program for housekeeping and organization became a daily activity.  They created new behaviors to ensure sustainability.  For the other warehouse, it happens only when the warehouse was a mess or visitors were coming.  

Strategy time, how much do you invest in it?

Strategy time, do you spend enough time creating your business strategy?

Strategic work is one of the most critical that a leader has to do.  A strategy is how the business is set out to achieve its objectives and goals.  Therefore, to attain them, leadership needs to focus on the necessary long-term business actions.  Also, they need to make decisions and allocate resources to support the action plan to achieve those goals.  There is no doubt you need to spend time to make this happen.  The question is, how much do you invest in strategy time?  

Why leaders do not spend enough on strategy time

When you run a business, especially if you are a solopreneur, you wear various hats every day.  You start the day with the firm intention of completing your tasks for the day.  Perhaps, working on your long-term business plans is one of them.  However, instead of analyzing trends and thinking about a new product or service, you find yourself putting out fires. 

It is hard to let go of the day-to-day operation.    When you don’t have skilled people to handle it, it is almost impossible.  Nevertheless, success depends on how you manage the situation.  It is too risky not to solve problems before they are too big to handle.  For example, your customers are waiting for quick and satisfactory resolutions to their problems.

Thinking about and create a new strategy to achieve business goals is a huge undertaking.    If you choose the wrong one, you could lose market share, money, or even credibility.  Perhaps the fear of failure is what prevents you from spending time working on strategy.

What can you do to have more strategy time?

There are three things that you can do to have more time to work on your business strategy.  You can develop your team skills, delegate, and schedule strategic work.

Most of the time, the cause of firefighting is unstable processes that are lacking standards.  Therefore, you would have to work on stabilizing them.  Simple tools like 5S and PDCS will help with that task.  Later use problem-solving to start moving the needle in the right direction.  Using the 5 Why and Cause and Effect, you can develop your team skills.  Consequently, they can take care of solving day-to-day problems following a set structure.

Delegation is not as simple as asking somebody to do some of your tasks.  First, you need to identify what tasks you can delegate.  Second, see who from your team is a candidate to learn those tasks.   Analyze their current skills, education, experience, and interests to find the best fit. 

Schedule your strategic work

To ensure that you spend time on strategic work, put it on your calendar.  This activity is not for the end of the year only.  For instance, you should work on long-term planning throughout the year.  There are two parts, check on the current strategy performance and work on the future.

Set aside chunks of time to think about the future.  Whenever an idea pops into your mind, make a note. Then, work on enhancing them during strategic work time.  Imagine how those ideas connect with your current operation. 

Putting something on the calendar does not mean that it will happen.  You will need to create the habit to work on strategy.  For example, use a calendar reminder as your trigger for the creation routine.  Reward yourself with something nice that you enjoy.  After all, you will be one step closer to the goal.


You start with a dream, a goal, something big you want to achieve with your business.  To reach that goal, you have to create a map, a list of actions that the company needs to take.  Those actions or strategy is what would bridge the gap between goal and achievement.  

Visionary leaders take time to imagine the future and build ways to go there.  You can do that by thinking ahead.  Think about how the market would change and how the business needs to adapt.  Or what new product or service would help to solve a customer problem.  

Focusing on day by day is important, but the long-term approach is vital for business growth.  As the owner or top leader, the time you spend on strategic thinking is very well invested.  When you develop your team skills, you can step back from at least some daily tasks.  Whenever that happens, you can spend the much-needed time on strategic work.

How to build a user story map

build a user story map to visualize the customer journey

A user story is a short and simple description of the product or service from the customer’s lenses. You can use this tool to map the primary steps in the customer journey and design the best experience.  How do you build a user story map?  First, take a look at the steps below.  After that, let’s discuss each one at a time.

Steps to build a user story map

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Understand your customers
  3. Map user activities
  4. Map user stories under user activities
  5. Rank stories from most important to least important
  6. Identify roadblocks
  7. Create your execution plan 

Before you build a user story map, understand the problem you want to fix and your customers

Before you start mapping, there are two things you need to know.  First, what is the problem you are seeking to solve?  In other words, what problem your product or service is helping your customers to overcome.   Answer this with as much level of detail as you can.  Look at the problem from the customer’s lenses.  Knowing their pain points or motivations helps to understand what has value for them.  

Identify who would be the primary user or customer.  Who is your target audience?  Likely, there will be more than one, and each will have different goals and motivations.  Also, they will have different ways of interacting with your product or service.  For that reason, it is critical to determine who is the primary audience.  Focus your design efforts with this group in mind.

What are the user activities and their stories?

User activities are broad descriptions of how the user interacts with your product or service.  In other words, they are general steps that the user follows to complete the process from beginning to end.  These activities are the backbone of the user story map.  

You can draw the map using one of the diverse options.  Examples are drawing on a whiteboard, using sticky notes, or with one of the various software tools available.  Regardless of the format, you decide to use, remember to update the map as you make changes throughout the designing or execution process.

When you build a user story map, prioritize the stories

Stories are the sequence of tasks to complete each activity.  Draw each array underneath the corresponded activity.  When you see those stories together, you will visualize the customer journey.  Stories are like a medium-level flow process map.  Sometimes it is helpful to visualize one step down in the process.  You can do that in the user story map, with sub-tasks.  However, use sub-tasks only when they help to visualize possible challenges or roadblocks. 

Once all the stories are in place, it is time to prioritize them.  Do so by ranking them vertically, leaving the most important ones at the top.  In the example below, I draw them horizontally instead of vertically.  If you choose to do it this way, remember to rank them from left to right.  Think about which one of these stories has more value for the customer.   

build a user story map

The same example but using vertical ranking would look like this.

Identify challenges and roadblocks before creating the execution plan

After prioritization, it is time to look at the customer journey flow again.  Put yourself in the place of the customer or user.  Do you see any problem?  Think of it there is a step or feature you need or most have that is not there.  Moreover, see if you can identify anything that the customer should or could have. 

Following this exercise, put your designer hat on and check for missing information or possible bottlenecks.  Identify any challenge or roadblock during execution.  That is, look for potential trouble and mitigate them by creating solutions ahead of time.

At this point, all you need to do is add the plan.  Based on priorities, budget, and other considerations, you decide how you would execute the plan.  Sometimes it makes sense to divide it into phases.  This way, you can plan for what is most important first.


User story maps are a tool that allows teams to visualize the story of the customer journey.  It is helpful to break those stories into smaller parts.  Therefore, it is easier to prioritize and identify challenges.  In other words, user story mapping help to design better products or services from the customer’s lenses.  After all, a product or service designed from the customer’s view has more chances of success.