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Tools: Navigational maps

NavigationalMapBlogService Design Shakedown Navigational Change Mapping Step by Step Guide


Navigational change maps are a way of thinking about and visualizing your current situation while also helping to map a future vision. They help to identify the services you deliver, how and why you deliver them. By using metaphor, the granular detail of the day to day problems are removed, and people can focus on the strategic goals.  These maps are created by teams within organisations – these teams could range from the board to service users in order to gain a bigger picture of how the organization is perceived.


Navigational change maps help to create a more holistic view of where the organisation currently is while helping to see where they want to get to and how they will get there. They help all stakeholders within the organisation have an input into the future vision and organisational strategy. The use of the change cards help to outline a strategic plan and understanding how they will get there.



  • Maps (or simply large sheets of paper)
  • Nautical and ‘Drivers of Change’ cards (Print onto A4 and cut out – including around 20 blanks)
  • pens

1) Map the current situation (30-45 minutes) – using the nautical visuals provided (or feel free to add some of your own) map the current situation of the organisation. The sea-faring/nautical metaphor should help to generalise the story at this stage. A few questions to help you get started:

What kind of sea vessel are you? Are you a fleet of kayaks or an oil tanker? Maybe you are a submarine?

What are you fishing for? Are you searching for treasure? Do you have a treasure map?

2) Map the future situation (30-45 minutes) – using the visuals provided discuss and map where you want to be in 3-5 years time.

Have you found the treasure? Have you moved from being a Kayak to a cruise ship with lots of people on board? Has your island increased in size? Have any new captains come on board?

3) Use the change cards to discuss how you can get from where you are now to where you want to be. (20 minutes) Use post-it notes to jot down ideas and thoughts for each of the change cards and how you will use these topics of impact, influence and leverage to see changes. You do not need to use all cards at this stage, use what feels relevant now. If you would like to read more on the theory of change you can find it at:

Navigational Change in Better by Design

The navigational change maps were introduced at the first Better by Design event – the Service Design Shakedown. All 15 organisations as well as local public bodies and authorities attended this event. This workshop was designed to introduce design thinking along with service design methods and tools as well as helping the organizations to think about the future strategy.

The attendees were split up into groups of seven from a mixture of the different organisations. The groups were given an organisational persona for the event to help take personal organisational identities away while providing aspects that each organisation could identify with.

The navigational change mapping was used so the organisations could take this method back to their own organisation and uses it within their teams.

The presentation from the Service Design Shakedown can be viewed below:


Download nautical and change cards and Navigation Map. The nautical and change cards PDF can be printed on 3 sheets of A4 and cut out. Choose ‘print multiple’ and 9 sheets per page. The Navigation Map is scaled at A2, but a sheet of blank flipchart paper will work too.


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