Basic Milky Way Intro

What is a Milky Way map?

Well most of you probably think of the stars on the night sky but this is not what I meant. There is a connection but I will come to that one later.

A Milky Way map is a map that describes an organization or a network of organizations using business capabilities, customer (or other relevant actor) journeys, value streams all positioned on one page.

The Geography of the map – Business Geography

The position of each part is as important as it would be on real map of a city och a country. However there is no north or south in an organization so we need something else to give us the geography. In the Milky Way map we use the overall value flow to give us the geography, the business geography.

We have created a circle, a hub representing the value flow in the map. The reason for the circle is to give the mental model of us doing things over and over again, like most organizations does. The more traditional way of structuring business maps, i.e. process maps, application maps, information models etc usually have a linear structure, from left to the right with no obvious feedback loop.

Linjär vs cirkulär

The linear way of structuring a map and the circular way of structuring a Milky Way map.

Business Geography

The Business Geography with the hub in the middle giving each sector of the map a business context.

Items in the Map – The Business Capabilities

Important pieces on the map are the business capabilities. In this context we use the business capability as a container for everything that is needed to be able to perform the tasks of the Business Capability.

I.e. the “Pricing” business capability is responsible for the pricing of products and services. You will find the following within this business capability; people working with pricing, their processes, the IT system supporting the pricing process, specific business rules relevant to pricing, if relevant even specific locations, the business events/results the processes creates and more relevant things for the business capability in order to be able to perform the tasks.

Bus Cap

Business Capabilities communicates with each other through information services. All (I can not think of a capability that lives in isolation) capabilities needs services from other capabilities.

The communication can be done in all types of ways/channels, from an analog conversation with someone on the other side of the table to a super sophisticated micro services architecture with services and APIs instantly signaling when a relevant business event is to be shared, i.e. “new product available to be priced” or “new product priced”.

The position of each Business Capability is based on where in the overall value flow the business capability is creating value for the organization and the customers.

MW med BC

The plain position gives a lot of additional information for persons with knowledge of the business geography even if they do not know the pricing business capability. The position in relation to other business capabilities is also relevant to understand the dependencies between them, by design or by “coincidence” (it just happened…).

What about the Support Capabilities? Read more here

Items in the map – Customer Journeys

The initial Milky Way maps we did really reflected the fact that we, at the time, had a very internal focus, the processes, information ans IT systems of the organizations we worked for. There was a need to open up to the customers and their experiences.

We merged the Milky Way and the Customer Journeys by using the Business Geography again. The Customer Journey with the stages and the touch points describes how the customer is interacting with our organization. The Milky Way describes how we are structured on inside with the business capabilities and the relations between them.

MW med CJ

Now we want to see which customer touch point is supported by which business capability.

MW kopplad till CJ

Items in the map – Value Streams

We started by describing the Business Geography as the overall value flow of the organization. Now we are returning to the value created. This time we want to be more detailed. Instead of looking at the overall value flow we zoom in to different value streams creating and delivering different products or services to customers.

By value stream we mean all the steps of value creation a product or services is taken through from the initial idea to the sales, delivery to the customers and follow up of the performance.

Value stream

Now we take value stream and add it to the Milky Way by drawing the value stream in the map creating relations between the business capabilities adding value to the product/service from the initial idea to the follow up of the performance. Different value streams might use/need different business capabilities depending on how they are design/build/delivered to the customers.

MW med VS

Now all the communication channels and messages that the business capabilities communicated have a purpose and can be connected to one or many value streams of different products/services.

All products and services have a life cycle and the stages in the life cycle require different types of support from the business capabilities.

The stages are, innovation & development, introduction, growth, maturity, decline and replacement.

Prod med LC

The support needed for a new value stream is quite different to the support a mature value stream needs. This is a good way to connect the business development needed to the product/services portfolio.

If we let the customer needs and our product strategies drive the business development then I believe there will be a better outcome then if we were to let the business development and product strategy and development work in a silo each.


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