Articles · · 2 min read

Strategy Maps: Connecting Design to Business Objectives

Strategy Maps are powerful tools that can help bridge this gap by visualizing the relationships between different business goals and the role of design in achieving them.

As designers, one of our key challenges is to align our work with the broader business objectives of our organization. Strategy Maps are powerful tools that can help bridge this gap by visualizing the relationships between different business goals and the role of design in achieving them. Let’s explore how Strategy Maps can enhance your strategic value.

What Are Strategy Maps?

Strategy Maps are visual tools that illustrate how an organization’s objectives are interconnected across different perspectives of company health. Originally popularized as part of the Balanced Scorecard framework, Strategy Maps help teams understand how various goals contribute to overall business success.

The Four Perspectives of Company Health

Traditional Strategy Maps connect objectives through four key perspectives:

  1. Financial: To remain in business, what are the financial goals we must achieve? This includes generating revenue, reducing costs, and retaining customers.
  2. Customer: What do we need to provide to our customers to meet our financial objectives? This perspective focuses on customer satisfaction and value.
  3. Operational: What internal processes do we need to excel at to meet our customer objectives? This includes efficiency, quality, and innovation.
  4. Learning & Growth: What are the necessary skills, culture, and infrastructure we need to develop to support our operational objectives?

Creating a Strategy Map

To create a Strategy Map for your organization, follow these steps:

  1. Identify Objectives: List the key objectives for each of the four perspectives. Start with financial goals, then move to customer, operational, and learning & growth objectives.
  2. Connect Objectives: Draw arrows to show how objectives in one perspective support those in another. For example, improving employee skills (learning & growth) leads to better operational efficiency, which in turn enhances customer satisfaction and drives financial performance.
  3. Visualize Relationships: Use the map to identify the relationships between different objectives and how they contribute to overall business success.

Example of a Strategy Map

Let’s create a hypothetical Strategy Map for a tech company focused on launching a new product:

By connecting these objectives, we can see how investing in employee training and fostering a culture of innovation (learning & growth) leads to enhanced product quality and streamlined development processes (operational), which in turn improves customer satisfaction and expands market share (customer), ultimately increasing revenue and reducing production costs (financial).

Benefits of Strategy Maps

Strategy Maps provide several benefits:

  1. Alignment: They align design efforts with broader business objectives, ensuring that design initiatives support overall company goals.
  2. Clarity: They provide a clear visualization of how different objectives are interconnected, making it easier to understand the strategic value of design.
  3. Communication: They facilitate better communication with stakeholders by clearly illustrating how design contributes to business success.

Conclusion: A powerful way for designers to see strategy

In conclusion, Strategy Maps are powerful tools for connecting design to business objectives. By visualizing the relationships between different goals, designers can ensure their work aligns with broader company strategies and enhances overall business performance.

Use Strategy Maps to gain a deeper understanding of your organization’s strategic priorities and demonstrate the value of design in achieving business success. By doing so, you can enhance your strategic impact and foster greater collaboration and alignment within your team.

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