What is Impact Mapping?
Impact Mapping is a visual technique which helps teams apply design thinking techniques, focusing the conversation on the desired impacts (and associated outcomes), with user goals top of mind.
What’s the Benefit?
The benefits of doing Impact Mapping include:
- Focusing the conversation on delivering business value
- Visually depicting important elements of a user’s journey in working with a product or service
- Serving as an opportunity for teams to better understand how strategic priorities map to the work that they are planning to do
Some of the best opportunities to do Impact Mapping include:
- When preparing to start work on a new product, service, or initiative
- When rethinking the approach for an existing product, service, or initiative
The following people are typically present during an Impact Mapping session:
- Facilitator (often a Scrum Master, for a Scrum team)
- Product Manager / Product Owner
- Product/Project Sponsor
- Team members
- Subject matter experts
- A goal or problem statement, ideally articulated before the session begins
- (optional) An outline of the Impact Map (even a rough sketch can help people relate to the concept; or alternatively, an Impact Map created for product or service that is reasonably similar)
Outputs from an Impact Mapping session typically include:
- Improved understanding of user goals
- A list of behavioral changes on the part of the user making visible those behavioral changes (the “impacts”)
- A diagram (the Impact Map) which shows the correlation between achievement of one or more user goals with the impact of various behavioral changes, and specific deliverables
Preparing for Success
Creating an Impact Map is much like the thought process behind creating a Mind Map, and thus, the following materials are needed:
- For remote teams: A software tool where it’s easy to collaboratively move objects and show relationships among objects, such as Mural, Miro, or Coggle
- Collocated teams: Some combination of a white board, flip chart paper, Post-it Notes, and markers/Sharpies
Note: See Tom Dononhue’s Impact Mapping – a cheat sheet for an additional perspective on impact mapping, including a nice depiction of the basic elements on an Impact Map.
To facilitate an Impact Mapping session:
- Identify a User Goal. Write a User Goal on the left side of the work space.
- Identify Actors.To the right of the User Goal, write the Actor(s) (Personas/types of users) who would need to achieve the User Goal.
- Identify the Impact(s). To the right of the Actor(s), write the Impact(s) of achieving the User Goal. Think in terms of:
- Why are we doing this now?
- What problem does it help a user solve?
- What business need does it address?
- Identify Deliverables. To the right of the Impacts, write Deliverables (analogous to epics or features) that would need to be completed to make achievement of the User Goal possible.
- Repeat as necessary for additional User Goals. Add nodes to the impact map until each goal has been included.
Note: Impact Mapping works well as a complementary activity with Story Mapping.
- Impactmapping.org has a wonderful collection of resources about Impact Mapping
- The book by Gojko Adzic, the creator of the technique: Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects.
- Tom Dononhue: Impact Mapping – a cheat sheet
Impact Mapping Video
Impact Mapping Podcasts
Impact Mapping Example
Authored by Philip Rogers
Photo by Sonika Agarwal on Unsplash
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