Larry Odebrecht published this article first on LinkedIn here.

For the uninitiated, Journey Mapping can be an uncentering experience. It’s often billed as the panacea of collective problem solving and analysis (which it can be) but that’s not its real purpose. The real purpose is a word that makes everyone squirm and struggle. and frankly is discussed way too little: empathy. 

I’ve seen this scenario dozen times: senior leader drives all the smart people in the room with the requisite post-its, squishy balls, donuts, and now mandatory high-fiber vegan meatless sustainable breakfast alternative and we spend the day working through what the path is for the customer. Generally, there’s an awakening to what the customer is feeling and why she sometimes hates working with you. 

Then off we go. The senior leader and his consultant roll up all the work done on the walls, it gets translated into one of the myriad publishing tools, polished, and then printed on foam board and mounted proudly and prominently on the office wall. This is all good and right.

Here’s the problem: that awakening never leaves that room. If the above exercise is done correctly, you’ll find a few moments when someone close to the customer leans back in their chair, dons the 1,000-yard stare, and SEES for the first time why the Voice of Customer feedback that has been confusing for years makes sense. THAT is what you’re after – but not just there.

To make this look useful, you need to take THAT understanding to your Executive Team. And it’s a tricky conversation to have. 

Here are 4 key tips to move from Strategy to Execution:
  1. The Visual is not enough. If you walk into your Executive Team with the visual and a “look at the cool thing we created” the message will get a celebratory taco party, but it won’t get your buy-in to solve the problem.
  2. Bring customers. This approach lives in the quadrant of Most Impactful and Most Personally Terrifying. There is clear risk here, but there is no greater driver of empathy than a key customer’s middle manager or operator talking about the pain that your tool or product creates. 
  3. Leverage your consultant. Any seasoned consultant knows that part of the value story is bringing the 3rd party makes them the tie-breaker. You still need to be seen as leading, but make the consultant share the uncomfortable truths.
  4. Now that you’ve created empathy, leverage that to light the burning platform.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a sentiment oft attributed to Rahm Emanuel… but I would argue you can get the same results if you leverage the Journey Map to create empathy with your executives.

Interested in reading more from Larry? Read about what he has to say regarding data quality and business intelligence here.