Impact mapping - you are not WHO

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on June 10, 2013
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I was asked to help a client to facilitate a Impact Mapping workshop. An initial map had already been created as a first try and we talked about around it to get a feel for where the discussion would head.

The main goal (refered to as the WHY on an impact map) was well-established and understood in the organization. Which was a big "phew" for me, since that is a hard case to crack in a single workshop, I reckon  I foresee lengthy discussions with political undertones, at least if it's keept on a company-wide-level.

But in this case the goal was set, let's say that it was "Get 100 000 active users by 2014".

On the next level, WHO, the proposed map and reasoning confused me a bit. And I didn't have an answers to explain why.

I was asked to help a client to facilitate a Impact Mapping workshop. An initial map had already been created as a first try and we talked about around it to get a feel for where the discussion would head.

The main goal (refered to as the WHY on an impact map) was well-established and understood in the organization. Which was a big "phew" for me, since that is a hard case to crack in a single workshop, I reckon  I foresee lengthy discussions with political undertones, at least if it's keept on a company-wide-level.

But in this case the goal was set, let's say that it was "Get 100 000 active users by 2014".

On the next level, WHO, the proposed map and reasoning confused me a bit. And I didn't have an answers to explain why.

On the next level the map showed the different teams in the organization. This was the proposed WHO that would: "help us reach our goals". That didn't sit right with me and I asked a question on theI tend to explain the level of impacts as "not you" and level of deliverables as "you" Impact Mapping Google Group.

Gojko Adzic gave me a short and sweet answer:
I tend to explain the level of impacts as "not you" and level of deliverables as "you"
And reading along in the Impact Mapping book in the Who-chapter we can see these definitions:
Whose behavior do we want to impact? Who can produce the desired effect? Who can obstruct it? Who are the consumers or users of our product? Who will be impacted by it? These are the actors who can influence the outcome.
In order to know that we're doing the right thing we also needs a solid understanding who we are doing it for. These are actors that we talk about on the WHO-level.

An impact is a strategic planning tool. It helps us to understand if we're doing the right thing, or when we have done enough of it. It can raise some important and big questions, like: should we organize differently, should we drop the things we're doing right now and do something else instead etc.

Was the client all wrong then?

Of course not. A client never is wrong. Impact map is a kind of mind map. Mind maps are powerful tools that can help you visualize your thinking in a very effective way. What you visualize is another question.

A impact map is used to visualize impacts that you want to make and the different roads you could take to get there, the actors that you will impact and WHAT and HOW they will be involved. It will help us start question the way we work and organize in order to reach our goal (the impact) fast and efficient.

What the client was after in this instance was a map that showed how their current organization was put together to support the goal. That's also great, but it isn't a impact map.






Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated