Thinking out loud about a format for an AWMUG event

It’s the day after map-camp. I really enjoyed myself, learned loads, and as far as I can tell, the talk I gave was well received. There was quite a lot of interest in running an AWMUG style event in London soon, so I’m going to share my thoughts now of what it might look like.

BTW, if you’ve never heard of mapping in the context of Wardley Mapping before, please visit this link with a primer – this article might not make much sense otherwise.

What’s the goal of a doing something like this?

One key thing I picked up on at Mapcamp when speaking to others, was that quite a few people wanted some practice at using Wardley Mapping to get some situational awareness, but wanted to to do so in a relatively safe space first, to build confidence for mapping something with higher stakes.

For example, you might want to have already tried it out yourself before you try selling the idea inside the organisation you work in, or you might simply want to check that well… you’re not doing it wrong.*

Prerequisites

A venue –  to find a decent compromise between making it open, and manageable, I think you’d need something like 20-40 people who might fit into groups of 4-6, with 2-4 facilitators (i.e. maybe 1 helper per 1 groups of people).

Projector and workshop bits (bare walls, flip charts, and whiteboards).

A good idea of the user needs you want to meet – when you try to make a map, and you don’t know much about the need you’re meeting, it often ends up being very difficult, and even harder to get consensus too.

Some domain experience – I don’t think you need to know the organisation you’re mapping, but it’s useful to know something about the sector it’s in, or be familiar with the kinds of problems it might be facing

Some understanding of what mapping is – it’s possible to watch a short video to refresh everyone’s minds, but the danger with coming to an event with no prior exposure to mapping would mean you’d have to take on a lot of new ideas quickly before you contribute and feel satisfied you’re making progress.

A rough plan

Here’s how I’d do it, with my facilitator hat on assuming we have say, between two and three hours:

  1. introduction
  2. build value chains
  3. add evolution
  4. break (it’s after work, after all)
  5. using the map to explore questions
  6. capture the key ideas and things learned in the room
  7. wrap up

In more detail, it would look like:

Introduction – 30 mins.

You’d have a -very- quick recap of mapping, or ideally a short video, for consistency.

To make maps comparable, you’d probably need to be mapping the same thing., ideally with props like a prepared persona, to help explain the user need you’re mapping. Ideally there would also be something visual like a journey map, to provide a bit more context showing how they currently try to meet that need.

Finally, in the UX toolbox, there are a few techniques for getting feedback from a group of people to help think through a problem, especially when they might not be confident in their skills. One such tools is  from a number of perspectives is design charette, sometimes referred to as design studio. I’ve used this slide in workshops to explain the concept, and it’s covered in more detail in a number of books and blogs.

Design Studio Diagram (1).png

The general idea is:

  • people in a group make a number of quickly created sketches inside a deliberately short amount of time (like 6 in less than 10 minutes)
  • they then share them inside the group in, say 1-2 minute per person
  • they then have a second go, usually at higher fidelity
  • they present again
  • they converge on making one design in the group

One of the reasons it works is that the short time means you don’t have a chance to agonise too much about the details – you just need to get pen to paper ASAP. Also, it gives a chance to see everyone else’s work quickly, which you feed off those ideas in subsequent iterations, helping take your ideas in new directions you didn’t first think of.

First, in groups, make a value chain – maybe 30mins

chain-of-needs.png

When I’ve tried to map anything previously, I’ve found that it’s better to try building a value chain before you start talking about evolution. There are fewer things to think about, in this context, it fits the design studio/charette format quite well: you give everyone a deliberately short period (say 5 minutes) to build at least one, then give maybe 2 minutes per person to present afterwards.

After that you agree as a group on a single value chain to draw on a white board, or similar.

NB: You might want to allow time for people to have extra round of maps by themselves before converging on a single one in the group – I’m hoping to test the idea in a smaller group first to see which format works best.

By the end of this you’d typically have:

At least one 1 A4 from each person with their value chain.

1 value chain from per group, based on a synthesis of the ideas shared during the charette process

Next, in the same groups, introduce evolution – maybe 20mins

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.25.13.png

Once you have a value chain that the group more or less has consensus on, plotting where the elements are on the evolution axis. I’d have a couple of cheat sheets handy for helping members of the group agree where on the evolution axis a component might be on the map here.

The aim here more than anything is discussion and a shared understanding, rather than being perfectly correct.

One person would act as the spokesperson for the group when presenting the map back in to the room.

Break – 15 mins

By now, you should have a few maps for a subject created, each with slightly different, but hopefully with enough similarities to allow people to have an idea of how to read a map, and how it was created.

At this point you’d probably need a break too, maybe 15 mins or so.

Finally, introduce movement, and commentary – 30mins

adding-movement

Once you have a map, it’s fair to say you’ll want to know how you might use it. Common questions I’ve used movement to help explain something have been along the lines of:

  • what has changed in the last few years to threaten how this works?
  • where is the inertia in this map that would stop things evolving in future?
  • if we started this whole service today, how would the map look different?
  • how would this map look for $COMPETITOR instead of us?
  • if we’re already serving users, what would the map look like for people who aren’t yet using what we’re building?

Depending on how many groups you had, you might allow 20 mins to agree on the question and try using the map to help form an answer. This might come in the form of annotations to the existing map, or if there’s time, a separate map to allow side by side comparisons.

presenting back

I’d allow maybe 2 minutes per group, for a single person to share this back to the room.

Wrapping up and capturing what was learned – 15mins

By this point, I think people are likely to be pretty tired. This seems like a point to wrap up and let people unwind, – chatting informally, and so on.

If you could get away with it, this would be a good time to asking people to leave feedback about the format, ideally in some format which makes it easy to re-use – either feedback sheets, or a wall, with specific prompts for questions, or comments, to make it more transparent for the room.

At this point, you’d probably want to see if anyone would have scenario to ‘donate’ for a future session like this.

Would you come to this?

These are some early thoughts about how an event would run. It looks like it would have to be a half day session, or maybe could be after work thing, if you were really tight with the facilitation of the event.

I haven’t worked out if this is best run as a chatham house rules thing, or if it’s possible to share the maps.

To help people learn it would be better to be able to share the maps and commentary on a blog afterwards, which would mean you’d need a scenario which isn’t so commercially sensitive. I think there are various organisations that could use mapping, and talk publicly about their use without wrecking their future prospects – if this sounds like you, I’d love to hear from you.

Also, if you’re interesting in helping run an event, or help host something like this in your venue please drop a line at hello@awmug.org, or if you prefer, use the contact form on this blog.

And as ever, comments below are welcome.

 

 

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