The highest performing companies build alignment around three questions: Why are we doing this? What should we do? How do we implement the transformation?

Boston Consulting Group, 2020


Similar to: Impact maps, fishbone diagrams, V2MOM, North Star
Similar to: Impact maps, fishbone diagrams, V2MOM, North Star


The Outcome Map

Clarify the goal and contributing factors to explore your challenge/opportunity and align those involved. “We want to deliver changes every week” is a fine outcome to aim for, but your odds of success and ability to make key decisions depend on why that’s valuable, as well as what could get in the way.


Begin with the end in mind. See and share factors between you and your goal. The Outcome Map allows team members to dig into a desired outcome and begin charting the path to achieving it with open eyes. Doing so will help the team define a clear roadmap towards better.

How do you build it? 

The team comes together to define their desired outcome, and then consider what could impact their ability to deliver it. Defining the Why(s) sets the foundation supporting the effort. Obstacles are the key challenges standing in the teams’ way. Investigation lists your immediate actions to address obstacles. Measures are TBD when you define the map at first, because until you create the following 3 maps, defining effective measures is impossible. You’ll loop back and fill them in. Optionally, you can dig even deeper to add Indicators, Impacts, Roles, and Methods. Indicators list how you will know you’re progressing. Impacts list factors that will affect your progress. Roles list the contributors to the process. Methods, like Measures, wait until you know more. Deciding what to do and how to measure it can’t be done effectively until you truly know where your risks and opportunities are.

How do you use it? 

The Outcome Map is an excellent way to create energetic communication, clarity, and alignment from the start. It also reminds you to stay on track as you progress, and how to know when we’re drifting from the path. By adding measurements and methods, you can describe where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

How do you get from a desired outcome to a target value stream?

If we take a desired outcome like: "Release twice as often", it's easy to target the release value stream for the product in question. 

  • Release what? We want to release our mobile app twice as often.
  • Why do we want to release twice as often? This may be obvious to you but it's safe to assume it's not obvious to everyone you need involved. Do you want faster feedback from customers? Why else?
  • What obstacles are in the way? Testing takes a long time, we need approvals from 3 different departments.
  • What investigations can we do? We could send out a survey (which may raise alarm bells). We could approach our director to ask for support.

The real secret to identifying value streams is here. Each value stream has a customer. If you find the customer, you find the stream. Some times the easiest way to map a mysterious value stream is to start from the customer and work backwards. Customer -> Customer Value (or need) -> What is delivering the value?

  • How will we measure progress? The first stream will be a big milestone. Having all the streams in a single portfolio is another (maybe aim for 10 a week). Assigning owners for each stream is huge. Having each team assigned to a stream is another big one. Creating a living visual reference would be great as well.
  • What methods will we use to make progress? Should we collect survey data and document it in a wiki? Create a visual representation? Will it be maintained by the owners?

Having a well understood outcome helps us focus on a specific value stream, because there's a value stream involved in the delivery of that outcome. There's a value stream behind every outcome. Once we know the outcome, we can identify the customer involved, and work backwards to the start of the stream.


By starting with the clarity of the Outcome Map, the team is heading in one direction together. Having a map makes it easy to communicate within and beyond the team.

"We're all on the same page and aware of what may lie ahead. We revealed that our regulatory requirements will demand a careful mitigation strategy, and our lack of test automation is a sore spot."

Other options

The 4 Keys Maps in Context

Below you can see how each map addresses valuable questions, and flows from one to the next. As you progress through them, you add clarity, confidence, and context to support powerful decisions with maximum alignment.

In other words:

  • Outcome: Define and clarify outcomes
  • Value Stream: Identify and address constraints and waste
  • Dependency: Visualize and address external needs and complexity
  • Capability: Measure and address internal needs and opportunities

See all the details in the full Flow Engineering ebook @