How to get a deep shared understanding about complex issues through collaborative “mapping” with your team.
Getting the perspectives of team members together is an art. Here are 3 methods to create a mutual understanding of complicated situations.

Here’s a collection of mapping methods I’ve come across over the years.


from Tom Wujec’s “Wicked Problem Solving™ toolkit”

A simple task that asks all participants to visualize the process of preparing a toast in individual steps.

By bringing together the individual drawings of the participants, misunderstandings but also contradictions or blindspots become visible.

The goal is to create a shared narrative from the different points of view.

In a short time, it is possible to create an awareness of the personal thought models in which the participants are stuck – and what commonalities there are.

Design Sprint Maps

from Jake Knapp’s “Sprint”

As we dive deeper into an idea, we work together to develop a map that we use to plot a user’s journey.

It starts with the actor(s) and ends with the obstacle of those actors.

In between we collect what we know about the actor discovering a new solution, learning more about it, and using it.

The point here is not to go into too much detail, but to quickly identify a focus area for which we want to test a solution.

Experience Maps

from Teresa Torres’ “Continuous Discovery Habits”

When conducting interviews we develop a shared understanding of our customer’s context: “What are they thinking, feeling and doing? What prevents them from doing X?”

The objective is to capture context visually along the journey to have a conversation as a team about the scope of the exploration space, keeping the outcome in mind.

Benefits of visual mapping with a team

• Visualization helps bring to light all that words cannot.
• We give all participants the opportunity to share their unique perspective.
• By combining our maps into one, we create a cohesive, comprehensive visualization of a situation.
• Maps are not the ultimate truth. You should keep on evolving and learning!