Friday, May 01, 2015

Things which come for free with a map

When you map, you get certain things for free (other than the technique being creative commons).  These "free" things are provided in the figure and they include :-

1. User Needs. Key to mapping is to focus on user needs.

2. Components. Maps are built from components (covering activities, practices, data and knowledge) along with interfaces. People talk about building a composable enterprises, a map will take you a long way towards it. They're also extremely useful for organising contract structures.

3. Flows. Maps contain chains of needs through which money, risk and work flows. Maps are great for examining flows, fault tree analysis, optimising revenue flow and increasing stability.

4. Context. Critical to mapping is the context provided by the evolution axis. You can use this to determine appropriate methods and techniques (e.g. agile, lean and six sigma or insource and outsource etc) and avoid all the one size fits all pitfalls. You learn how to explore the uncharted and plan for the industrialised. If you want to be composable but you want each component to have the right context then use a map.

5. Cells. With maps, organising into cell based structures is relatively trivial. Even better you can organise into cell based structures with the right context. In such an environment you can give people not only purpose (i.e. the map and the strategic play) but also autonomy (the cell) and mastery (the context). You also learn how you need multiple cultures not one.

6. Strategy. Key to strategy is situational awareness and that requires position and movement. Maps give you the ability to identify where you should attack, why you should attack one space over another and determine direction of travel. You can also use maps to learn and building an arsenal of tactical game plays along with learning common economic patterns, how there's multiple of disruption, how to anticipate change with weak signals and how to use and exploit ecosystems.

7. Communication. Maps are excellent tools for communication between groups - all the business / IT / purchasing alignment stuff is just an artefact of existing methods. They also provide learning environments (i.e. you can learn what works, what doesn't) along with mechanisms to remove silos, duplication & bias, increase collaboration and deal with inertia.

When people talk to me about composable, context, user needs, cell based structure, strategy, communication, alignment, contract management, risk management, financial flows, appropriate methods, efficiency, exploration, weak signals, disruption, ecosystems, culture, organisational learning ... actually lots of things ... I normally ask for a map. If they don't have one then I prepare myself for a delightful session of blah, blah, blah on subjects they barely know anything about. This is why I tend to only work in interesting organisations where competition is really important.

You can tell, I've just had to listen to another one of those ... blah, blah, strategy, blah, blah, disruption, blah, blah, innovation, blah, blah, story .... sessions without an ounce of situational awareness to be seen.