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What’s In Your Toolkit? 4 Essential Mapping Tools to Drive Implementation Quality and Accelerate Change

February 16, 2024
Angela M. Jack & Kris Earl

Embarking on the path of change and implementation requires more than just a vision; it demands a strategic roadmap to navigate the complexities effectively. The map serves as your guide, helping you plot the course, identify, and avoid obstacles, and reach your destination with confidence. In the current educational landscape, where change is the only constant, having the right tools to support implementation efforts can make all the difference. In this blog, we highlight four essential mapping tools educational organizations can use to support high-quality implementation of change initiatives and accelerate change efforts. These tools are key to unlocking strategic, high-quality implementation and moving your change initiatives forward more precisely and effectively. Read on to learn how mapping tools can be used to support change with purpose and efficiency during the implementation process.

Tool #1 – Implementation Mapping Interview

Is your organization just beginning the implementation of a change idea? If so, understanding organizational context is essential for those supporting change efforts. The Implementation Mapping Interview is one activity used to gather data to understand better organizational context–the set of conditions, made up of active and unique factors, within which implementation is happening (Pfadenhauer et al., 2017) and help guide implementation support practitioners in identifying and accessing resources to facilitate sustainable change. Implementation support practitioners utilize focused interview questions aligned with the implementation drivers to learn contextual information and assess an organization’s readiness to embark on the work. This individual or team-based interview approach equips implementation support practitioners with valuable insights into the conditions influencing change and that ultimately impacts decision making. Knowledge gained from the Implementation Mapping Interview not only helps in understanding the organization’s current state but also assists in tailoring support strategies effectively. 

Tool #2 – Competency Driver Mapping and Action Planning

Have you ever heard the saying, “Where focus goes, energy flows?” Another activity to help educational organizations promote high-quality implementation and accelerate change is to focus on Competency Driver Mapping and Action Planning. Competency Driver Mapping and Action Planning involves identifying the levels of quality and effort being applied to the Competency Drivers (i.e., selection, training, coaching) for a current change idea and utilizing that information to create action plans to address areas where quality and effort are not at desired levels. This systematic approach allows educational organizations to identify, prioritize, and strengthen knowledge necessary to navigate change efforts. Intentionally focusing on the level of quality and effort being applied to the Competency Drivers during the implementation process can significantly impact the trajectory of success and ensure deliberate attention is given to the organizational infrastructure designed to support implementation efforts. The Competency Driver Mapping and Action Planning Tool can be used throughout the implementation process. 

Tool #3 – Mapping Feedback and Feed Forward Pathways

Have you ever thought of how the integrated nature of the implementation drivers helps build an educational organization’s capacity? The activity Mapping Feedback and Feed Forward Pathways examines information and communication pathways between the drivers to support effective and sustained implementation. Well-designed communication protocols support the integration of the drivers developing a structure for communication within teams and across teaming structures. The activity maps existing feedback and feed forward communication loops between the drivers to identify established loops and where improved communication loops are needed. Feedback loops inform current practices to improve quality, such as training outcomes informing selection protocols.  Feed forward loops relay information to support future improvement, such as training results informing targeted coaching needs.  Drivers linked through well designed communication protocols can promote an integrated approach to build capacity, address barriers, and develop an infrastructure that fosters full and sustained implementation.   

Tool #4 – Process Mapping & Hurdle Identification

Recognizing that it is not “if,” but “when” implementation barriers are encountered and having plans in place to address them that leads to effective implementation. Building an educational organization’s capacity to develop processes and identify teams and/or leaders to address barriers promotes an efficient response that has less impact on overall implementation and could prevent future barriers from occurring. The tool, Process Mapping and Identifying Hurdles, is a template teams can use to identify steps in the organizational process where barriers may occur, identifying who may be involved, what, when, and how it may occur, and the specific barrier that may be encountered, leading the team to identify strategies and modifications in the implementation process to address it. Educational organizations can use the Process Mapping and Identifying Hurdles template throughout implementation to revise processes and strategies to address barriers based on outcomes and to document processes used to address any anticipated barriers, and to map processes for any new anticipated barriers with ongoing implementation. 


Implementation is a journey. Highlighted in this blog are mapping tools and activities to create a strategic roadmap to develop an educational organization’s capacity for successful and sustained implementation. As an implementation support specialist, it is crucial to understand the organization’s values and priorities to support capacity development. Focusing on the quality and integration of drivers supports the organization’s capacity to accelerate meaningful change. Roadblocks happen with implementation, planning for potential barriers creates efficient and responsive change to develop, initiate, and sustain implementation.


Check out the Active Implementation Hub for these essential implementation mapping tools. 


Pfadenhauer, L.M., Gerhardus, A., Mozygemba, K., Lysdahl, K.B., Booth, A., Hofman, B., et al. (2017). Making sense of complexity in context and implementation: the Context and Implementation of Complex Interventions (CICI) Framework. Implementation Science, 12(21). doi:10.1186/s13012-017-0552-5

Robbins, T. (n.d.). Where focus goes, energy flows: Create a vision for your business and your life. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/career-business/where-focus-goes-energy-flows/