This post will explore how you can use the Job Start Canvas as a reminder to give focus to these 6 important areas when starting a new job. We’ll explore each section of the canvas and they types of things you need to think about. If you use this tool, you’ll be rocket up to speed even if you get very little direction from your new employer!

The canvas

The Job Start Canvas consists of 6 sections:

  • Tasks
  • Training and Admin
  • Stakeholders and Organisational Chart
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • Program Operating Model
  • Strategy / Lean Canvas



This is where you put any tasks that have been directly assigned to you. These are what are keeping you employed so they’re your top priority. Proceeding through the rest of the canvas will ensure that you don’t get bogged down in this space as that would really slow you down overall. It’s also likely that you won’t be assigned any specific tasks. In this case the canvas will enable you to gain the foundational knowledge needed to start participating more quickly and then take on work.

The concept of time-boxing can be very helpful in your first 2 weeks when you’re not sure you’re going down the right path on any piece of work. Not sure that piece of time consuming data analysis is going to add value? Do 1 hour of work on it, then stop and move on to another piece until you can show someone to validate the direction you’re heading in.

Another thing to think about is your task management system. If you don’t already have one, now may be a good time to explore this (or simplify and improve your existing one) as it’ll boost your productivity for years to come.

Training and Admin

Here you put your compliance and introductory training tasks and you can create a checklist of all the admin and setup you need to sort out. For example: Test that you can login and know how to submit timesheets, Printer setup, Phone access, System access, Meeting room bookings, 24/7 building access. Tick these off during your first 2 weeks.

Also set yourself up for success by blocking out housekeeping sessions in your diary. For example I’ve set up ½ hour sessions every day as follows:

  • Monday – Paper cleanse (recycle any payers to make sure you don’t build up a hoard of papers)
  • Tuesday – Email cleanse (go through your ‘reply’, ‘waiting’ and ‘archive’ folders and process/delete/move to actions log) to make sure you don’t build up a hoard of emails
  • Wednesday – Planning (for yourself and your team)
  • Thursday – Actions (going through your actions log, closing things off)
  • Friday – Digital Admin (filing documents, backing up files, etc.)

This should help get this pattern into your routine to make sure you do your admin, say 5-5.30 every day (or another time that won’t interfere with your most important tasks or meetings).

Stakeholders and Organisational Chart

Draw your own organisational chart of all the stakeholder’s you’ve heard mentioned. You can do this exercise by looking in the corporate directory at the business, IT and your program. Drawing the chart will allow you to see the relationships between the stakeholders you’ve heard mentioned and help you understand the purpose of their part of the organisation and give you much better insight into the conversations you’re part of in meetings.

This is really important to make sure you can follow conversations in meetings and understand which area is responsible for what and who you should engage. When you start a new job you lose your network of supporters that helped you get things done in your previous job. Therefore you need to learn the structure of your organisation as quickly as possible to build up a new network. If you neglect this area, many conversations will go over your head and it’ll take much longer to reach your peak productivity levels.

Work Breakdown Structure

This section of the canvas is for you to create your own Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). It doesn’t need to be really spectacular yet – just something to give you an idea of the various deliverables you may need to produce. This way you can start working out all the activities you’ll need to do and the artefacts you’ll need to produce, so you won’t be left wondering what to do. If your program already has a comprehensive WBS then great, study that, get familiar with it and use it. However, often you aren’t given any guidance on what you should be doing and creating your own WBS will help you focus.

Program Operating Model

Here you can sketch the operating model of your program. Meetings happening all around you and you have no idea what’s going on? This exercise will help you identify how the work gets done; what the regular meetings are, how the teams interact, how planning is done, how deliverables are approved, and more. You’ll fit in with the organisation much quicker if you understand this in your first 2 weeks. If your new organisation is in chaos and there is no structure then you can create a framework and suggest that for the team! This will immediately show that you have talent to organise teams.

Strategy / Lean Canvas

The Job Start Canvas has its own Lean Canvas section! Creating a Lean Canvas for your new organisation or business unit will help you understand the organisation’s strategy. Once you understand the strategy you can use it as a lens to examine what you’re doing and make sure you’re working on the right things. This also very helpful when you aren’t given much direction as it guides you in creating the right customer journey and user experience that will align to business stakeholders’ expectations. This will also help you follow conversations in meetings and participate more quickly as you’ll have more insight as to the reasoning behind decisions.

Are any important sections missing? Let us know in the comments.