Relationship Mapping

A workshop to help extract and document knowledge from domain experts.

The relationships between the human parts of large systems is always complex. Only domain experts who have spent considerable time with them can know who communicates with who and when and why.

This method aims to extract that complex knowledge and document it in a way that makes it easy to communicate and share.

Setup

Step 1

Write down the roles of all the people on index cards.

Step 2

Place the cards on a wall to roughly represent either their geographical locations, or conceptual groupings like departments, working relationships etc.

Step 3

Use masking tape to draw boxes around distinct areas to from solid groupings.

Step 4

Label the groupings, this will be easy for geographical groupings but more difficult for more conceptual ones.

I made this image small so you can't read the detail.

I made this image small so you can't read the detail.

Case studies

Now ask the expert to think of a specific case then using string and tape, draw a line that represents the movement of information between the people. After the string is tapped on, ask the expert to talk through it, noting it down separately (alternatively you could record the entire session, but this may throw people off). Use an index card, title the diagram and take a photo. You are now free to take the title and string down and explore another case.

You can use these photographs and the accompanying case descriptions recorded during the session as the starting point for some higher fidelity documentation. If you leave this up on the wall it can be used to facilitate conversations that crop up in the future, as I find it helps to have something to point at.