A Tool for Implementing Strategy
- Look ahead and foresee obstacles
- Plan strategy to overcome them
- Show how alternatives may play out
What River Mapping does
- Guides you through building a strategy or action plan. Time flows along the river. Symbols encourage consideration of the critical elements of planning, including elements often overlooked
- Forces attention to obstacles and actions to overcome them
- Promotes discussion of how the outcome of the plan will change depending on decisions and actions taken
- Stimulates thinking about the sequence of actions, dependencies, alternatives, risks, barriers, help needed.
Use River Mapping When you need to
- Develop a strategy to achieve your vision that all stakeholders agree to
- Gain perspective on which obstacles are serious and demand action and which are les critical
- Construct and evaluate alternative strategies
- Map a process where time sequence is a dominant factor, such as a sales process
How to Build River Maps
The River map building process moves the map builder alternately from left-brained, analytical, sequential thinking to lateral, right-brained, visual thinking and back again. Its goals is to ensure all assumptions are challenged, variables are considered and the resulting plan is realistic.
- Discuss actions needed and record on billboards. Group them into strategies and place in time sequence. Connect them with rivers that flow to the goal
- Add action symbols to give life to the meaning of the billboards
- This encourages using the right-brain and sets the stage for insights about obstacles and risks
- Consider possible unintended results. What might lead the project over a waterfall to its end or lead to it become hopelessly bogged-down in a swamp?
- Show obstacles, risks and help needed
- Write a narrative, to capture all the key points in words
Example of a River Map
This map shows a North American married couple’s thought process when the husband is offered a position in Italy. Adam is an astronomer and Minda works in genetics industry.