I have had a lot of success with Experience Maps, also known as Customer Journeys. It’s really a way to re-introduce systems thinking to those who don’t have that mindset from human factors engineering. You have to think of the product use end-to-end, not just the thing itself.
The early example I found to sell this to management was Peer Insight’s work on the Amtrak Acela:
It was pretty obvious to give them the example of a passenger arriving at the destination, stuck without a ride.. Today you can find many other examples on the web, service design seems to have rediscovered this, but initially it was part of customer experience marketing research, used by hotels to pinpoint where their customers were unhappy.
Recently I had a lot of success with this method as a generative tool, working with Product Managers early in the product strategy to define user’s unmet needs. We gathered some internal and external subject matter experts, walked through the end-to-end task flow using post-its (we re-positioned frequently as new steps were added), also noting all the artifacts and tools the users needed to accomplish their goals. It’s important not to jump into design when you’re just trying to define the current state, but you also want to stick any ideas that come up on a parking lot so you don’t lose them. Once the map is iterated and fairly stable, you go through and identify what’s working and what isn’t (e.g. ‘Rose Thorn Bud’ method).
I first started doing mapping as a summative/ evaluative tool. We introduced a new product, now why aren’t people adopting it? Why don’t they know about it? At Texas Instruments when we rolled out the new TI Nspire, this method got all our silos to think about the end-to-end experience. We got a team of sales, support, packaging, marketing, product development, training, and UX all together to map out the journey, and identified a path forward to integrate branding (no more brown cardboard boxes!), and added to each team’s product roadmap, to make the path easier for the customer (both teachers and students).
More about Experience Mapping: