The elements of a map
1). You have the User needs.
2). You have many chains of needs.
3). Those chains of needs consist of components whether activities, practices, data or knowledge.
4). The entire "Value Chain" (i.e. all the chains of needs and their components meeting the user need) provides positional information on the landscape i.e. what relates to what. It is called a value chain because the assumption is that value is created by meeting the needs of others.
5). Every component is evolving where supply and demand competition exists. So the map is under constant evolutionary flow and it's not static. As components evolve their characteristics change from uncharted to industrialised
6). By mapping against evolution you can therefore see movement and identify how things will change. The map enables you to describe an organisation or line of business or system (e.g. value chain) against change (evolution) and therefore provides positional information and movement. This is critical for any form of situational awareness which in turn is useful for organisational learning (i.e. what methods, patterns, technique work in a given context).
7). Within the map itself you have various flows e.g. risk & finance. If you wish you can knock yourself out with fault tree analysis, value stream mapping and all other sorts of flow. They all have uses.
8). The entire map occurs in a landscape which competitors, market changes, others maps of other systems and strategic plays can be shown against. This can be used for numerous techniques from removing bias & silos to gameplay. Maps are rather easy communication tools useable across functions in the organisation
The defining characteristic of this form of mapping is position and movement. It's all about improving situational awareness.