Although the staff members may be generally aware that these cross-department contributions exist, without mapping them and being as specific as possible, it is impossible to know how all the work across departments builds upon each other in specific ways."
For some organizations involved in urban planning and management, it is unclear what their strengths and weaknesses really are. What are they doing very well? Or poorly? What topics have thorough coverage? Or lacking? One way to gain quick insights, which can provide a base for further exploration, is through mapping for cross-functional areas. Keep in mind that How to Map for Outcomes can be combined with cross-functional mapping for a deeper analysis, though each is helpful in its own right.
Mind mapping for cross-functional areas step-by-step
Take a look at How to Map for Outcomes for the basics of mind mapping. We’ll keep the steps the same until we get to the third step. From that article, “First, you’ll start off with the current basis of the organization, typically the departments or divisions of the organization. You’ll map these fairly equidistant from each other to give space around each one. Second, you’ll branch from the departments or divisions with the work they produce. There is a wide variety, of course, but typically these are structured as programs (containing multiple projects and initiatives). Projects are likely at too small a scale to map with this step, unless they have an importance level similar to a program.”
Third, instead of mapping outcomes of focus or interest, you’ll map cross-functional areas. Typically, the functional areas (note we are not getting into the cross functional part yet) will be the areas of work or delivery areas of the organization, reflected in the structuring of departments or divisions. Some typical functional areas are emergency management, transportation, workforce, land use, zoning, and housing, and many others (see Figure A).
When we map cross-functional areas, we make connections between the functional areas, typically structured as departments or divisions. Let’s walk through an example process of someone in an executive position working to pinpoint cross-functional areas. Keep in mind, the lines illustrating connections can come from the department in general or a program or initiative that has been identified. For this example, we’ll focus on the department level, but both levels could be included and will reap greater and more accurate detail. The organization does a good bit of work on protecting key critical infrastructure elements for the purpose of emergency management, such as ensuring evacuation routes are the last infrastructure elements to fall into a state of disrepair or levees and other protective infrastructure are the first to receive maintenance funds. Some of these critical infrastructure elements are for transportation purposes, so a line is drawn from emergency management to transportation with the anticipated result (AR) title “critical transportation infrastructure protection.”
Shifting into the land use, zoning, and housing department, the work they do in housing involves a connection with transportation. Housing is planned with multi-model connections including transit, biking, walking, and driving to employment, commercial centers, and other key destinations. This AR connection is titled “housing development with balanced transportation access.” In thinking more about housing, some gaps come to mind. Housing is of course tied to workforce development, but there is not a clear connection the organization makes between these two currently. A dashed line for a need (N) is drawn with the title “plan for balanced workforce housing.” That is a big topic that could take many directions. It could pertain to ensuring housing is balanced, attainable, and affordable to all income groups for existing employers as well as new employers that recently moved to the area. It could tie into other needs as well. Housing is currently not a major focus for the emergency management work, though it could be strengthened. A dashed line is drawn with the N title “pinpoint housing needs within emergency management.” Another AR between workforce and transportation is “transportation with balanced workforce access,” and another N between workforce and emergency management is “plan for post-disaster workforce recovery.”
Quick way to understand work across departments
As the exercise proceeds, the filled AR lines begin to indicate where the current efforts are, while the dashed N lines indicate potential gaps. Though rudimentary, it is quick and easy to do by only one staff member as a start and is truly telling of the work products and their ultimate contribution areas. Although the staff members may be generally aware that these cross-department contributions exist, without mapping them and being as specific as possible, it is impossible to know how all the work across departments builds upon each other in specific ways.
How you could use these insights
As with How to Map for Outcomes, how this information is used can be wide ranging, but here are a few options:
Now that you have a strong foundation for both cross-functional mapping and outcome mapping, move onto the next step, How to Combine Mapping and Results for Holistic Organizations. In addition, see if other resources can be helpful such as How Operational Level Staff Can Get Involved .