Tool: Practice Map

Practice Map is a simple set of connected dots that represent practices given that the connections represent the ways practices affect one another. (Using mathematical terminology, it’s a directed graph with vertices as practices and edges as dependencies between them.)

Practice Maps are rarely used to incorporate all possible practices in the enterprise as such a map would be overloaded and hardly useful. Instead, a Practice Map can be used in a specific domain, like in the example below it is a Practice Map for DevOps ecosystem of practices.

In this example, as we can see, in order to properly utilize DevOps, we need to adopt Continuous Integration which in turn requires some sort of Lean Branching strategy to prevent the teams from creating long-lived branches of the solution. Similarly, there are other “paths” in this map that underline other important dependencies.

Practice Maps are especially useful when they are context-dependent; in other words, reflect a specific situation in the organization.

Practice Maps represent a good tool for:

  • Identifying the dependencies between practices and the nature of the dependencies. This is critical to streamline the adoption process and build Organizational Habits.
  • Select possible strategies for adoption of practices. For example: which practices to start with and to what extent, which “paths” to postpone for now, what “vertical slice” of the whole ecosystem to work on in the nearest future and so forth.
  • Identifying issues with adoption and their impact on the entire ecosystem
  • Reflecting on the vector and overall progress of adoption

While Practice Maps can be a very useful tool, it is critical to remember that every Practice Map is just another Mental Model of reality and like every Mental Model, it requires frequent validation to remain effective.