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Mapping for the Agile business

Recently I read a post by Chuck Frey where he highlighted nine information maps for managers and I was struck how mapping uniquely helps teams be more agile. But, before I get into that, for those who haven’t been introduced to the concept – what do I mean by being more agile?

Agile is typically software development term, but the method is increasingly being applied across business functions. Here’s a pretty good excerpt from CIO Magazine breaks it down.

Agile programming breaks down an application development project into small modularized pieces. Each piece, addressed one at a time in a very short time frame, adds to the application and represents a complete part of the functionality.

Each piece is an iteration that lasts from one to four weeks. As a result, you know immediately when a particular piece of an application proves troublesome. That lets you work through the issue immediately.

Each iteration is like a mini-project by itself.

Here’s how Agile practices work outside of engineering. For example, you have a marketing outreach campaign that runs for 13 weeks and incorporates several executions that include email, banner ads and direct response. By building a map you can then use it as a dynamic road map- providing strategy, an outline of your tactics, for note taking and then as report on the campaign’s success.  For each ensuing week you can iterate and improve upon your campaign with the knowledge that you’ve acquired along the way.

With Agile business practices you can affect change much earlier so your results are optimized. Beyond marketing and development, Agile can lend itself to strategic planning, HR and talent management, business development and sales management.

After reading Chuck’s post it’s clear that information maps are the perfect complement to the Agile process.  Why?

  1. They assist in planning to help teams collectively decide what they can do and what’s necessary to achieve the immediate goal.
  2. Maps can be leveraged as a team dashboard. They provide a visual recording of the plan, discussion and direction. Team members can track status, keep notes and quickly move from high level goals and/or drill down into minute details as required.
  3. They are a real-time resource that provides a snapshot for team members to review, learn and improve.
  4. Team members can leverage online maps to share progress, information and files regardless of location.
  5. Maps are dynamic.  As such they can be easily updated to incorporate the latest thinking, success metric or resolution.

If you want to check it out the Chuck’s complete report, Mind Maps for Leaders & Managers report, click here.  Got other tips to make your business more Agile?  Let us know!

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