Functional strategy mapping (often called just ‘strategy mapping’) is a procedure that attempts to clarify the cause-effect relationships in a firm’s (or part of a firm’s) strategy. The set of cause-effect relationships identifies not only what needs to be done to move a company or function forward, but also why it should be done. As with many techniques of this type, the process of debating and drawing the strategy map can be as valuable as the finished result. The map itself connects four sets of issues. First, it asks one to identify how the firm (group/main board/business, whoever represents the shareholders of the business) want from your function. Second, your customers (internal or external) and what they want from you. Note – customers can be either the firm’s external customers or other parts of the business, or both. Third, what improvements or changes you need to make to the processes within your function so that they are better at meeting the objectives of the firm and your customers. Finally, what capabilities (things you need to be particularly good at doing) you need to develop in order to make the required improvements or changes to your processes.
There are several versions of strategy mapping, usually based on work by Kaplan and Norton who used the technique to operationalize their Balanced Score Card approach to performance management. The version of strategy mapping described here does not follow Kaplan and Norton’s original structure. Instead it uses a ‘Y’ shaped structure (see later) that exposes the potential tensions between the needs and interests of the business or organization and those of its customers.