Impact mapping - you are not WHO

· June 10, 2013

I was asked to help a client facilitate an Impact Mapping workshop. An initial map had already been created, so we discussed it to understand where the conversation would lead.

The main goal (referred to as the WHY on an impact map) was well-established: “Get 100,000 active users by 2014.” This clarity was a relief since such goals can often lead to lengthy discussions with political undertones, especially on a company-wide level.

However, the proposed WHO on the map confused me. It listed different teams in the organization as the WHO that would “help us reach our goals.” This didn’t sit right with me, and I sought clarification.

I tend to explain the level of impacts as “not you” and the level of deliverables as “you.”

Gojko Adzic provided a concise answer: “I tend to explain the level of impacts as ‘not you’ and the level of deliverables as ‘you’.” This aligns with the definitions in the Impact Mapping book, which describe WHO as the actors who can influence the outcome.

In order to know if we’re doing the right thing, we need a solid understanding of WHO we are doing it for. These are the actors discussed on the WHO level of the impact map.

An impact map is a strategic planning tool that helps us understand if we’re on the right track and when we’ve done enough. It raises important questions about organizational structure and priorities.

But was the client wrong? Not at all. An impact map is a type of mind map, a powerful tool for visualizing thinking. What you visualize is another question.

In this case, the client wanted a map showing how their current organization supported the goal. While this isn’t a typical impact map, it still serves a valuable purpose in understanding organizational dynamics.

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