Paul Kahn and I just published an article outlining a foundation for what we’re calling alignment diagrams. See “Locating Value with Alignment Diagrams” in volume 2, issue 2 of the Parsons Journal of Information Mapping.
Here’s this abstract:
Theorists and practitioners in design and business management use diagrams to locate business value at the intersection of products or services and customer actions. Information Architecture (IA), User Experience Design (UX), and Service Design (SD) all seek to shape, design, and integrate the user/customer point of view with the business offer. All these practices benefit from a variety of visualization techniques to represent systemic thinking. We propose the term “alignment diagrams” to describe the class of maps and diagrams that visualize touchpoints in a business process. Such diagrams are implicitly part of the current design practice. Thus our definition of alignment diagrams is less a proposition for a new visual technique than recognition of how various techniques can be seen in a new and constructive way. Alignment diagrams are constructed to reveal touchpoints and thereby contribute to the design and business process. They have two parts: one capturing customer behavior and the other capturing the offer or business process. The intersection or overlap of these two parts reveals touchpoints, or the specific interactions customers have while doing business with an organization. It is the system of visual alignment that distinguishes this type of diagram. By aligning the user’s experiences with the business offers the diagram identifies and highlights the intersections where value can be located.
Our main thesis is based on a presentation I gave at the Euro IA Conference 2010 in Paris called “Alignment Diagrams: Strategic UX Deliverables” (slideshare).
I’ll be talking about alignment diagrams in my upcoming workshops in Sydney next week. If you’re in the area, you can still sign up–there are seats available. See the workshop website for details and to register.