Mapping is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to solve complex problems. It is designed to include people from all levels of the organisation that may impact or be impacted by the initiative.
Mapping creates a shared brain between people of different roles and expertise. It also creates a democratic way of creating hot spots of focus, while allowing decision makers to decide on what to prioritise by leveraging the input from the group.
Although mapping generates rich outputs for next steps, the shared understanding and conversation from participation in the workshop itself is powerful in creating alignment and surfacing ideas that otherwise might be lost.
Defining the problem statement
This can be an ambitious vision phrased as a problem or a very specific problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Stating the problem statement as a vision in a simple sentence is useful to use as a reference point whenever you ask “what are we trying to achieve again?”.
The next step in mapping is identifying and involving the right people to participate. Generally, for big vision ideas or wicked problems, involving people from varying roles and experience levels is hugely beneficial to gain different perspectives.
The actual mapping processing begins with ensuring that everyone is aligned with the greater problem that is being solved. A good technique to do this is to explain the problem statement, then prompt the group for the challenges that they foresee in achieving it. Each challenge is noted on the map individually. This activity creates a shared understanding of the vision and goals, and uncovers the hurdles that each person might have from their vantage point in the business.
Listing the people, organisations, and systems involved
These actors may be individual people, business functions, departments, partner organisations, and technology systems that support existing processes and functions.
Each person in the group should suggest the actors that they think are part of solving the problem. By crowdsourcing the actors, each person in the group is also exposed to actors that they might not have been aware of.
Uncovering the as-is journey
The map now consists of a well understood goal, and the different actors involved. Although this is useful knowledge, the “as-is” journey is important to map among the group. This is the existing journey in achieving whatever goal we have listed. This creates baseline alignment across all stakeholders and often allows people to see the process through other people’s eyes.
Projecting a to-be journey
With a strong understanding of the challenges, actors, and as-is journey, ideas for solutions can be generated. Throughout the previous interactions, all the participants would have questions and ideas that come to mind based on their unique perspective of the “shared-brain”. These ideas and questions are placed on the map relative to the area that they are related to.
The map now contains a shared brain encompassing the experience and expertise of various people
It contains a collection of shared challenges, an exhaustive list of actors involved, and a clear outline of the existing processes and journeys. The map also contains solutions to problems that will inform what a solution could look like. This artefact is invaluable to teams trying to solve wicked problems and innovate in their digital product and service offerings. Finally, the experience of creating this map with the different stakeholders involved creates empathy, shared understanding, and alignment between everyone. New relationships and lines of communication are formed, and this ultimately results in improvement in the existing business operations.
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