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Track and adapt how design creates, delivers, and captures for the rest of the company

Gain a deeper level of understanding in how your partners perceive you and the value you provide with The Good Partner Map

The Good Partner Map is one of the methods we teach here at The CDO School.

When you lead design, you have to be able to communicate how design creates, delivers, and captures for the rest of the company because it’s all about meeting customer, societal, environmental, equitable, etc. needs. I designed this tool to help designers better sell the value of design by treating Design as the Product.

This particular tool helps teams develop a sense of how their cross-functional partners perceive them. People are using it to document a model of their functional value, to help understand how excited their partners are to work with them, how easy the team is to engage with, and how to make improvements. It pairs particularly well as a follow-up to XPLANE’s great Empath Map exercise.

Here’s how it works

The goal of the exercise is to gain a deeper level of understanding in how your partners perceive you and the value you provide. The exercise can be done individually, as a team, or with your cross-functional partners.

Completing the map has a sequence and is organized by numbered steps. The map is organized into four sections; Your Company and Partner, Your Current Value Model, Gauging Partner Reactions, and you Your Next Value Model.

In this format, I recommend completing the map as a functional team first; e.g. the design team, the PM team, etc. You should be able to make a rough map in about 30 minutes. Even if you’re conducting the exercise by yourself, the exercise helps you identify the value you provide so you can improve on that value.


Section 1: Create your functional value model

The left side of this map is about understanding the perceived value of your discipline. Before you can analyze what’s working or not, you must first have clarity on your own model of value. This portion the map connects the skills, capabilities, processes, communications, etc. you provide to specific partners.

Section 2: Map how your partners react to your value

This is my favorite part of the map. Why? Because it changes the focus from understanding to reflection. In this step, you’ll map how excited your partners are about the elements of your value and how easy or hard it is for them to adopt those elements into their work. It’s here you should ask yourself, “What about my offer excites my partner” and “What do they think is easy or hard to do?”.

Section 3: Improve your value model

Now that you’ve placed the elements of your model in the categories, the right side of the map is about how you can innovate your model. Always be improving!

Pro-tip: Keep this model as a live map in your favorite virtual white-boarding tool. As you test your changes, revisit and update your map. I’ve done this on a quarterly basis and thus far, that cadence has worked well.

Over time, you’ll be able to innovate your own value model and in turn, become a much better partner to your colleagues and co-workers.

The Good Partner Map as a new Mural template. Go check it out now!

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