Capture engagement design details quickly and effectively for discussion and guidance

About the canvas

The Engagement Activity Canvas is a tool to use in organisational change management. It can be populated by experienced and novice change practitioners. It is designed to be read (or consumed) by those with responsibility for designing engagement activity for one of more groups.

The canvas is a way to present visually on a single page, a coherent concept of multiple inter-related parts – in this case the design of a single engagement activity or event.

Questo has created templates Engagement Activity Canvas: for printing (PDF) and digital-fillable (PDF). These are available for use under a Creative Commons licence with stated conditions. The sections of the canvas can also be simply redrawn on a whiteboard or large sheets of paper, for population by a group in an co-design session.

The Canvas performs a number of functions:

  • Simple yet coherent documentation of the activity concept design
  • Prototyping or hypothesising quickly about potential engagement activities; there may be more than one concept that is valid to consider
  • Tool for conversation and exploration with sponsors and collaborators about proposed activity concepts
  • Tool for guiding more detailed planning of the activity concept (providing mobility and immutability of knowledge for collaborators to draw upon a common understanding)

The Engagement Activity Canvas has 12 dimensions that are explained below.

As a supplement, some of these dimensions could be columns in a spreadsheet with information captured in rows per engagement activity for recording in a central single schedule of all stakeholder engagement activities.


[Side note: Questo also has developed a Learning Event Canvas which is designed for events where the central aim is acquisition of knowledge and skills.]


Engagement Activity Key Dimensions

Note: The Canvas is not meant to capture every detail about your Engagement Activity. Aim for a macro view of essential details that guide more detailed planning and delivery.

PARTICIPANTS:  The groups of people whom you are engaging.  If you choose to be human-centric in how you engage, then this is the group whom you serve in designing and delivering the engagement activity. Draw upon knowledge captured through Stakeholder Analysis and in Stakeholder Group Profile Canvases.

PURPOSE: What the organisation seeks from the Engagment AND what the participant might reasonably seek from the Engagement.

The two purposes may not be directly aligned. It is worth noting – there may be creative tension between the two purposes that needs managing or resolving in your design choices.

CONTEXT: Where the participants are in terms of the journey of change, which are a consideration about the place from which to travel and the direction (or vector) in which to head next. Include details here if using the ABO (PDF) model or ADKAR® model to indicate stage of ‘journey’.

CONTENT: The topical contents of the Engagement Activity. This covers the knowledge, skill, tools and mindsets to be affected or introduced.

METHOD: How the Activity is delivered. Some examples: ‘Facilitator-led’ vs. ‘Self-directed’ vs ‘Change Agent Network’; ‘Session-based’ vs ‘On-the-job/At-the-desk’ vs ‘In-team-meeting’ vs ‘Slack Channel’; ‘Whole-day’; ‘Half-days, one per week for 3 weeks’; ‘Small group (5-10)’ vs ‘Large group (30-50)’. If the Activity has multiple parts, then include these with a sense of sequencing.

EXPERIENCE: Adjectives that describe the experience for the participants. e.g. ‘Thought-provoking’; ‘Social’; ‘Reflective’; ‘Immersive’. These are qualities of experience you hope will fulfill their cognitive and emotional needs and desires.

DESIGN PRINCIPLES: The principles influencing the design and delivery of this Activity.

RESOURCES – People: The people who must be present during the Activity to enable it to run effectively. e.g. ‘Facilitator’ vs ‘2 x Facilitators, co-facilitating’; ‘Sponsor’; ‘Ops Support’; ‘On-call Support’.

RESOURCES – Place: The general setup of the space(s) (e.g. physical and/or digital) in which the Activity will happen.

RESOURCES – Materials/Artefacts: The other resources that are necessary to provide to enable the Acitivty to run effectively.

PRE-ACTIONS: The actions to take BEFORE the main Activity to initiate engagement with participants.

POST-ACTIONS: The actions to take AFTER the main Activity to follow-up or affirm engagement participants.

EVALUATION: The method and metrics to apply in evaluating how well the engagement achieved its purpose. This includes feedback from participants.


An example

Here’s an example of a populated canvas from a real situation. This captures the design of the Go Live Fly-away activity also presented in a recipe format.


Populating the Canvas (aka designing your engagement activity)

We encourage co-design activity with participant representatives when designing engagement activity. The canvas can help a group of co-designers focus on the relevant design decisions to be explored and made.

One input to designing an activity can be a set of change design principles. Your Engagement Activity can be creatively constrained to address 4-6 design principles that guide design decisions about the activity so that it is the ‘right’ fit for the particular purpose of the activity. [For advice on how to acquire a set of relevant principles, see Potential approaches in using our Change Design Principles Cards.]

If you have eager change agents, who are willing to propose engagement Activities – encourage them to use the template to capture their idea and submit it for consideration.

If you are taking an experimental approach (i.e. probe) to see what Engagement Activity makes sense and is effective, with parallel Activities that have same purpose, similar timing but different form or shape – then make multiple canvases to be able to see the ‘related’ Activities side-by-side.


There is no fixed process about how to populate the canvas. Start anywhere that makes sense to you or your collaborators, and collate your thoughts about the (proposed) design.

As you populate the various sections, you can cross-check that what you are designing is logical, and flows in connection with others sections.

For example:

  • If you are thinking that the Activity will be delivered via video-conferencing/webinar (METHOD) and that the EXPERIENCE should be Social, then do you have a mismatch of Method and Experience, or will you do something extra to create a Social experience over video-conferencing modality?
  • If you are thinking that the Activity will be hands-on and practical (METHOD), what kind of room set-up do you need for that (RESOURCES-PLACE) and are there How-to topics included in the CONTENT?

One way to ‘read’ the Canvas to check for coherency, is a narrative like this:

For these PARTICIANTS in this CONTEXT, we will engage on this CONTENT via this METHOD while ensuring they have this kind of EXPERIENCE which will require these RESOURCES. The Activity will be ultimately successful if it serves this PURPOSE as determined by this EVALUATION.

Another version might be:

We have this PURPOSE to achieve with these PARTICIPANTS, which constrains us to engage on this CONTENT via this METHOD and these PRE & POST ACTIONS.  We have scope to provide this kind of EXPERIENCE using these particular specified RESOURCES. The Activity will be ultimately successful if it responds to this CONTEXT as determined by this EVALUATION.


Using the Canvas

With an agreed concept design, as defined and understood in a completed and approved canvas, the work to deliver the Activity can be better scoped and delegated.


But wait there’s more

There are many things on the Questo website that can be helpful to Change Management practitioners. Check out Resources and Articles.


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Creative Commons License

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