What if we could see all the invisible forces at play in the things we do, and the decisions we make, and the things customers do? With these 3 sketches, I reckon we can!
What drives you to do the work you do? What attracts people to some products more than others?
At the risk of sounding like Obi Wan Kenobi: these forces are all around us! From the tiny forces that make covalent bonds in molecules, to the vast gravitational forces that move tides and planets around, to the mysterious forces of politics, relationships and stock markets, we live in a swirling maelstrom of forces.
These forces hold such sway over us, our lives, and our decisions… yet they’re all invisible. Wouldn’t it be great to actually see those forces once in a while? When we see better, we understand better, and then we can solve problems better and come up with better solutions.
Well guess what? Sketching can help us ‘see’ and understand what various forces are doing in any given situation, and how we might work with them, even master them.
Let’s take a look at 3 visual patterns we can use:
- Visualising forces of business competition
- Visualising stakeholder influence on decision-making
- Visualising and quantifying pros and cons for decision-making
Visualising forces of business competition
Do you want to understand more about how competitive forces affect your business? Porter’s Five Forces framework* is a handy way of thinking about and mapping out the various factors that will make a new or existing business, product or service attractive and profitable or not. It looks like this:
Porter’s Five Forces sketch
There are three ‘horizontal’ forces at play: the threat of substitute products or behaviours, the threat of established rivals, and the threat of new entrants. There are also the forces of bargaining power of suppliers (those you depend on to provide components of your product) above and buyers below.
The forces around a business change all the time, and this pattern helps you to structure your thinking and take action in the face of those forces. Try this on a whiteboard whenever your team needs to talk about competition.
Visualising stakeholder influence on decision-making
Is your organisation currently stuck on trying to make a decision of some sort? Whether it’s moving into a new market, or changing your company’s ERP systems, weighing up pros and cons can be hard, especially when there are so many stakeholder voices and influences going on. Sketching out a map of those forces and influences can help you pull each source apart, quantify them a bit, and guide you and your team to a decision.
Here’s a fairly simple example:
Driving and Restraining Forces sketch – thinking about the various stakeholder voices
Visualising and quantifying stakeholder influence on decision-making
Sometimes it’s not so much about all the various voices in the conversation trying to make a decision, but the cold hard facts of pros and cons. Here’s an example showing how you can bring in more information to help make the decision:
Opposing forces sketch, with each pro and con scored out of 5
So, how might you and your team use these three visualisation patterns to help you better understand and master the forces at work in your product or service?
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