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Alignment Diagrams as Business Tools?

The first book from Rosenfeld Media, Mental Models, is hot off the press (get 10% off with discount code FOSMEX10). I bought a copy this week, and was struck by how widely the alignment diagrams in the book could be used.

In case you haven’t seen an alignment diagram, it basically groups similar mental concepts together and maps them to corresponding content or functions, listed underneath (click for a larger image).

alignment diagram

Just as strategy maps made a conceptually large and complex set of concepts easy to understand (and popular) by visualizing them all on one page, alignment diagrams does the same for what people are thinking and how to interact with them. The book culminates with a chapter on deriving structure and labels from the diagram, for example for a website. But it’s easy to imagine much broader applications, from organizational change planning to communications strategies.

  1. Amen!

    We’ve started to explore this opportunity with mental/alignment models over the past couple of years. In addition to features and functionality, we’ve also mapped things like business goals, web and business KPIs and CLV guess-timates.

    It’s a great tool to communicate the relationship between customer/user needs and business needs, but not without some challenges, including requests to make them less “realistic”. (they were exposing too many painful truths!)

    Generally, I’ve got high hopes for this tool and am looking forward to seeing how people extend it in the future.

    And yes, the book is great!

  2. Great point, Victor!

    Indi and I have talked about exactly that a couple of times. The mental model could be an amazing tool, particularly because its language analysis can diffuse some of the personality conflict that impedes organizational change and new market exploration.

    That part of the discussion didn’t make it into our B&A interview (which could have been 5000 words), but I’m going to work on posting that to my blog at least, as the discussion was quite good.

    I hope to find an adventurous company to try it later this year. If you know of anyone, I’d be interested in talking to them. Or, if you do so, please let us know how it goes!

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