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Mapping Experiences

Mapping Experiences:
A Complete Guide to Customer Alignment
Through Journeys, Blueprints & Diagrams

Nowadays, customers don’t revolve around the business. Rather, businesses must figure out how they fit into the lives of their customers. To achieve the required change in mindset, we recommend reading Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Customer Alignment Through Journeys, Blueprints & Diagrams, written by Jim Kalbach and published in November 2020 by O’Reilly Media, Inc. Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in user experience design, information architecture, and strategy.

Kalbach is currently the Head of Customer Experience at Mural, the leading online whiteboard (which is, by the way, a tool that I enjoy using in this work-from-home period), and has also consulted with large companies.

Although the concept of “experience” is slippery, there is a systematic way to capture and map an experience in a diagram and obtain valuable and actionable insight afterward. Mapping Experiences is divided into three parts and contains 14 chapters. It presents a type of tool that provides organizations with insight into their broader product and service ecosystems. The book offers various techniques for mapping experiences. The focus is on the category of diagrams and the related techniques that collectively seek to describe the human experience. It provides a model for decision-making that includes the human condition and therefore builds empathy. After each chapter, the author not only offers a list of further reading sources but also a case study, enriching the experience for the reader.

The first part covers fundamental aspects of the mapping process and introduces the diagrams and the perspectives that they offer in terms of improvement, strategy and innovation, as they represent a new way of seeing the market. The second part of the book proposes a four-step process for creating alignment diagrams: initiate, investigate, illustrate and align. I really enjoyed the third part of Mapping Experiences, which is focused on an overview of specific types of diagrams, such as service blueprints, customer journey maps, experience maps, workflow diagrams, mental model diagrams, but also ecosystem models or diagrams that seek to visualize a broad system of entities and interactions between them.

This book is a great resource for anyone involved in the end-to-end planning, design and development of products and services, including designers, product managers, brand managers, marketing specialists, strategists, user experience experts, entrepreneurs and business owners, regardless of
their skill level in mapping, as the author's hope is to expand the reader's thinking and approach towards mapping in general. The steps and processes outlined in the book are basic enough for beginners to start creating diagrams. The related techniques should provide new insights for experts as well.

This book deals with various techniques for mapping experiences, not a single method or output, and so it offers a wide variety of perspectives. The focus is on the diagrams and conceptual model that collectively seek to describe the human experience, a powerful technique for envisioning future solutions. Mapping Experiences offers insights and a framework to map the experiences of the consumer - which is a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

Reviewer: Monica Diana Olteanu
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