Example impact maps

Impact maps show assumptions and a connection between business goals, impacts on users and stakeholders, and team deliverables. They usually take the form of a mind map, or a hierarchical outline. Structuring information as a mind map allows you to describe many different dimensions of a product milestone plan in a single visualisation. Use colours, letter type and size, position (hierarchical, vertical/horizontal and relative), outline shades and shapes and additional symbols such as asterisks to describe importance, priority, grouping or impact.

The first example map illustrates a milestone for a music information web site. The main business goal for the milestone is to increase mobile advertising revenue.

There are three groups of important actors that could contribute to the goal. Super-fans with mobile devices are the most promising category to influence, so the map lists impacts for them first; if the team achieves the goal with just these impacts, they don’t have to deliver any features for the other two groups.

The proposed deliverables are grouped under three potential impacts. Push updates could help bring fans back to the web site more frequently. Forums and chat systems could increase engagement and get fans to spend more time on the site.

The second example map illustrates a milestone of an online gaming platform. The key business goal for this milestone is to increase the number of active players to 1 million.

Players are important actors. They can help by recommending games to their friends, posting about the games on Facebook or inviting friends directly.

Another group of important actors are advertisers. They can also bring players by publishing adverts.

There are several deliverables that can impact player behaviour. For example, semi-automated invites can help make invitations more straightforward, a more personalised experience will make it more likely that players will invite friends, and reaching new levels or achievements should motivate players to post about the games on social networks.

Further resources

For more examples, check out the Practical Usage section of the Tips and Tricks page.