Seeds grow flowers!

Taking a very binary view of why people expend the effort to create value chain, value streams, and/or process maps, there are two reasons for mapping. The first is to generate a cost advantage by increasing efficiency. The second is to generate product differentiation. Each reason requires information about customers, how raw materials are transformed, and how the product is delivered.  The analysis and decision based on the maps are very different. Seed questions are a useful gathering data in a repeatable manner. Here are some sample mapping seed questions: (more…)

You do not have to be a superman to map your metrics to your organizations goals!

You do not have to be a superman to map your metrics to your organizations goals!

Jason Yip (@jchyip) commented on my post, Why Measure, pointing out the problems with many of measures that are used, and therefore the unintended behavior they cause because the wrong question is being asked. Asking the wrong question (or seeking the wrong answer) is exacerbated when measures and metrics are not linked to organizational goals. Measures and metrics that are not closely linked to the organization’s commitments cause the wrong behavior. The only way to truly know if your measures and metrics are linked to the organization goals is to map them back to the goals. There are several techniques for determining whether linkages exist.  We begin simply with a mapping/matrix approach using a spreadsheet.

Here is the Spreadsheet-Based Metrics Mapping Process:

  1. Identify the organizational goals and objectives. While this should be as simple as asking the first person you run into, generally collecting the goals and objectives is more problematic and can generate quite a bit of conversation (a benefit in its own right). If you have to mine for the objectives, review the annual report or interview senior managers. As a general rule you are looking for the overall organization’s goals rather than those for a department. However, if you are serving an autonomous division within a conglomerate, your sights might be lower.
  2. List the organizational goals across the top of the spreadsheet.
  3. Inventory all the metrics and any measures that are in a standalone mode (A measure is a concrete or objective attribute that can be directly measured.  Metrics are the combination of two or more measures or metrics, such as miles per hour).
  4. List the metrics and measures down the slide of the spreadsheet.  The resulting matrix will look something like this:Matrix
  5. Convene a cross-functional team of approximately 5 -7 people (include management, team members, product owners and other IT stakeholders) and fill in the matrix.  This is generally a two-pass process.
  • Pass 1: Walk through each measure and develop a consensus of whether it directly incentivizes behavior that supports the goal and strength of the support that is generated. Use blanks and Harvey Balls to indicate degree of support visually.  A blank represents no support and a fully closed in Harvey Ball as strong support. Time box this step to no more than 2 minutes per metric (average), because you want initial reactions.
  • Pass 2: Challenge the team to walk through each metric and measure and to name the behavior they believe the metrics will incent. Then ask them to revisit or refine their initial observations.

Note:  I consider the order important. The first step helps to identify participant’s natural, non-intellectualized view of the metric or measure, and also creates a minor anchor bias. The second step allows the participants to express their intellectual positions and to challenge the potentially more emotional position they may have initially espoused.

The outcome would look like the following:


Updated Metrics Map

  1. Where the linkages between metrics and goals are not strong and specific there are three options:
  • Stop collecting the metric (this is my favorite IF there is no or just a tenuous linkage, or if there are other stronger links. Less is generally more in measurement).
  • Change or refine the metric if you absolutely need the refined metric to cover a specific goal or to incent a specific behavior.
  • Continue despite the lack of linkage and waste everyone’s time (this is usually driven by poor internal politics).

The mapping/matrix approach is easy to deploy and collaborative.  Involving all the stakeholders in the measurement process in the mapping process creates a substantial level of buy-in. The process of refining the links between measurement and goals can generate a lot of information about the organization. For example, the process will expose whether all levels in the organization know what the organizational goals are and then whether they are progressing against them.

Mind maps can be useful for note taking.

Mind maps can be useful for note taking.

Mind mapping is a technique for mapping information. A basic mind map typically emanates from a central topic with subdivisions branching out from that topic. The process for mind mapping has few basic rules and suggestions for constructing and formatting mind maps, which makes them highly flexible. Mind maps have a wide variety of uses based on one central theme: learning. The uses of mind maps include:

  1. Note taking: Most lectures tend to follow a more linear outline with relationships and linkages between topics inferred. Standard note taking is generally a reflection of how the lecturer thinks rather than how the note taker thinks. Mind mapping helps the note taker to capture the branches of the topic and then to visualize the linkages. Structuring notes based on how the note taker thinks makes memory recollection easier. Note: I occasionally use this technique to restructure standard notes as a means reinforce my memory.
  2. Planning: Few plans are linear. Mind maps are useful tools for planning and visualizing program-level backlogs. The branching attributes of the map provide a tool to show how functionality breaks down and then visualize the linkages (dependencies) between the entries. While every story should be independent, story and task independence is generally a goal rather than a fait accompli in many organizations. A second use for mind maps in the planning category is as a tool to capture sprint planning results. The sprint goal serves as the central theme with stories radiating from the theme. Activities and task branch from stories. Relationships can be added to show predecessors and successors (or as a trigger for re-planning).
  3. Research: Using a mind map a tool in research is very similar to how mind mapping is used in note taking, with a few subtle differences.  The first is that the mind mapper is generally gathering data from multiple sources while looking for gaps or unnoticed relationships as data is acquired. I often use mind maps as tools for gathering and reorganizing information that I collect (the ability to reorganize data is a strength for most tool-based mind mapping solutions). Many tools support clipping URLs and information for bibliographical entries.       The real power of using mind maps as a research tool is the ability to visualize the data collected, which generally makes gaps obvious and can be useful when looking for relationships between branches of the research.
  4. Presentation Tool: In the entry Mind Mapping: An Introduction, I recounted the story of Ed Yourdon using a mind map to direct his presentation. I have developed mind maps as a precursor to building a classic PowerPoint presentation. When developing or giving a presentation from a mind map, the flow of information reflects how you have visualized and reflected it on the map.
  5. Organizing thoughts: This is my favorite use for a mind map. I begin the organization process by generating my central theme and then using the theme as a hub add each separate item I can think of based on that theme. I generally do this on paper without worrying about spelling or whether one or two items are duplicates. The goal is get everything that is known around the central theme. A starburst pattern will be generated. A simple example:


Once the starburst is created the map can be mined to establish major subdivisions and to indicate area where more research is needed. Walk through each entry and gather related items together. From the items you gather together, the name of the subdivision will emerge. For example, in our mind mapping mind map, when I gathered note taking, planning, research and other together the major subdivision titled “Uses” emerged.


Every Daily Process Thought essay begins using this type of mind map. Many people use the term brainstorming for this type of mind mapping activity.

Mind maps are tools for visualizing data. Seeing your thoughts put into patterns that represent how you think makes it easier to remember the ideas and concepts being mapped. Mind maps also help the mapper see gaps in the data or to jog creative thoughts by exposing relationships that do not jump out when processed linearly. Mind mapping is an extremely flexible tool, therefore there are an enormous number of uses. There is a saying that “if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail.” Given the varied number of uses for mind maps, perhaps they might be an information-visualization Swiss Army knife.