Archive for category My Business

Service Blueprint Template

Earlier this week someone shared a ‘service blueprint’ with me.  It was a one page summary of key information regarding a methodology for a repeated service.  I’ve now used it twice with minor adaptations on methodologies that I’m currently designing.  It’s a very easy way to summarise key information about a methodology on a single page.  I’ve found it especially useful to (1) communicate expectations with multiple parties who need to undertake tasks (2) identify gaps in a methodology or toolkit.

A basic generic template is shown below and can be downloaded at this link.  If you do download it please post a comment below.  It would be useful to know what you are using it for and any adaptations you make to it.

Here is a quick guide to content of the service blueprint by row:

Stage – Break methodology into a series of stages and give each one a title

Maximum Duration – Estimate maximum duration for each stage.  You could also give a maximum / minimum range, or an estimated duration for projects of different scales or complexity.

Physical Evidence – List key physical artefacts that will be produced during a stage.  These provide evidence of completion of key tasks in each stage.

Customer Actions – Most projects have an end customer, be they internal or external.  Identify key actions / tasks for customer in each stage.

Consultation Actions / Group X Actions – Add a row for each key party that has to complete actions / tasks for any stage.  This is similar to a ‘swim lane’ in a process map.  Identify key actions / tasks for each party in each stage.

Tools & Templates – List key tools or templates that should / could be used in each stage.

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Getting to Grips with my Newsletter Tools – for Now

I had wanted to start a newsletter for over 12 months before I finally did it.  I had completed a newsletter ‘toolkit’ session with my mentor Katie Mac (from Katie Mac Publicity) over 6 months before I published my first one.  What stopped me was (1) making time to develop content, and (2) not having the skills to design and create the newsletter template.

I addressed both obstacles by engaging someone with the skills to co-design the newsletter look and feel and then set up the template in MailChimp.  Paying for this service increased my motivation to find and protect the time to develop newsletter content.  I tend to work best to deadlines, so created an arbitrary deadline of July 2018 to release my first monthly newsletter.

I’m currently working on content for my September newsletter (a little later than I had intended to, but will release it this week).  I decided it was time to take over the technical newsletter production tasks.  My designer provided an online demonstration of how to replicate a previous newsletter and update both the content and design elements.  It’s actually very straightforward.

I’ve also used Canva for the first time to edit titles for articles within the newsletter.  This is an unexpected bonus as I’ve been looking for a reason to learn how to use Canva.  I often see attractive visuals online that other people have created using Canva and have yearned to be able to produce my own.  Today I took my first baby step toward this goal.

The general approach that I’ve used to developing skills needed for my newsletter is one that I commonly apply to get things done in my business.  Where I don’t have the time to figure out how to do something myself I engage someone who can do some setup efficiently then get them to train me.

I also recognise that while it makes me feel good to master new tools it may not be the best use of my time.  Particularly as I am shifting how I work and adopting a business model rather than a solo practitioner model, my time will be better spent on strategic, high leverage activities such as business development, marketing and sales, product development and some delivery.  I may end up outsourcing technical newsletter production again or engaging a team member who does this work alongside other operational and administrative tasks.

PS: September 2018 newsletter theme is social learning.  Newsletter goes on on 21 September – sing up now on website to receive a copy.

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I Travelled to Get Unstuck

From January to August this year I lived on the road with my 13 year old daughter.  We travelled around the east coast of Australia, as far south-west as Discovery Bay in Victoria and as far north as Port Douglas in Queensland.  I drove around 12,000km as we moved from one Airbnb to another, or stayed with friends.

Our trip ended a month ago and we’re settling into our new city – Brisbane.

I’m currently writing my September newsletter, and want to reflect on what I’ve learned about my work in the introduction.  I was having trouble getting started writing this piece yesterday so turned to ‘travel quotes’ on Pinterest for inspiration.  Thanks to the Bohemian Bowmans blog I came across a quote that perfectly captured why I travelled.

Source: http://bohemianbowmans.com/20-travel-quotes-youve-never-heard/

While my imagination and capacity for enthusiasm hadn’t completely eroded, this quote got me started with my opening paragraph:

I embarked on an extended road trip because I felt stuck. I lived in a busy, expensive city. I worked hard on consulting projects to pay the rent.  I rarely socialised.  I was struggling to support my child contend with an alienating school environment.  I felt my choices, freedom and vitality being stripped away from me.  I travelled to get unstuck.

You’ll have to wait for (or sign up for) my newsletter for the rest of the article.

Spoiler alert – yes, I did get unstuck.  The extended period on the road has opened up new ways of working and new opportunities.  I’m currently in that ‘in-between’ stage, the ‘unfrozen’ stage, where I’m exploring possibilities and alternatives for how I want to work and reshaping my business model.  My mindset is open and expansive, and I’m excited about the options I’m exploring.  (More on this in upcoming Daily Dispatches.)

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