Let’s Create a Funky, Creative HR Map


November 12, 2010

I was reading this great local magazine (Eleven Magazine) about music, community, and culture and noticed that they include several pages of maps.  Maybe I’m the odd duck because I rarely read magazines in print anymore and I can confidently say I haven’t picked up an actual newspaper in eons.  This one caught my attention though on a recent trip to The Tap Room with Chris Frede (@HRBuoy) and Dwane Lay (@dwanelay), two local St. Louis HR bloggers.

In this case, I’m reading through this very hip, trendy magazine and find myself drawn to a map coordinated with a calendar to identify local area events over the next several months.  They also have a section called “Neighborhood of the Month” that has another map that directs readers on hot spots and happenings in that neighborhood.  It’s accompanied by narrative to draw you into following the arrows on the map and make the events and locations sound appealing.

I liked it so much, I started thinking about how human resources could incorporate maps into our work with clients.  I’ve personally used process maps and flow charts with success over the years.  What I’m thinking of now is a different type of map.  One that could incorporate concrete information but meld it with some fun and funky, eye-catching ways to get the reader to want to follow the map.

Maybe I’m a dreamer….I’ve been called worse.  I’d still love to try to come up with something.  What do you think?  Is there a fun way to incorporate HR information or process into a fun and creative map?  Share ideas in the comments and let’s see what we can come up with collectively….


  • Thanks for the shout out, TM.

    Do influence maps count? I dig those.

    But as a reformed geek, I go immediately to system maps. The ones with lots of lines showing integrations between core applications and one-off apps. They’re great because I can see who it all pulls together at a glance.

    For HR, I love the idea of doing something like that, but instead of apps, focus on answers. For instance, if I need to know something about benefits, I would start with my HR partner, who may refer me to the contact center, who would then eventually hook me up with the benefits specialist, who could refer me to the online repository of information that has my answer. How about a map that connects the “benefits” box directly to the repository? I don’t think the chain of discussions is caused by wanting to run around and talk to ten people, I think it’s from not knowing where to go in the first place.

    MLB.com has done a nice job with their team sites. Each one has an “A to Z” list for their venues. It makes it very easy to find the answer you need in a hurry, often just giving you the link for where to find the info you need. It’s on my list to develop for our self service implementation.

    Lot of systems, lots of answers. A map is just what we need.

    • @Dwane- You “get” my way of thinking. Thanks for pointing me to the way MLB.com is using it on team sites. I like to find other industries using technology then twist it to fit HR. Sounds like I’ve got some work to do….

  • My thought is to create your own Google Map and make it a national mapping of events, bloggers and HR topics. You do this by clicking on “My Maps” in Google Maps and drop pins that correlate with the topic location. Within those pins you can write text or upload pictures and add links. Then publish it like a web page. The map content is specific to the key words and title you give it. And, of course, you can invite people to collaborate to build the content. Check it out Trish and see if that might be what you have in mind to begin that visual journey to connect HR in map-form!

    • @Lyn- Thanks for such a good suggestion. I’ll have to try it out and see if it accomplishes what I was thinking of. So glad you commented with the idea.

  • I really like this idea, I recently posted about a Twitter ‘Map my Followers’ tool, and the possibility of incorporating map type mashups in more enterprise applications. Presenting information in ways that are engaging, interesting, and out of the ordinary I think can potentially lead to more insights and even better decisions.

    • @Steve- Glad you commented Steve. I hadn’t read your post at the time I wrote mine so I find it interesting that we’re both thinking about maps. Sounds like a good project for us….in our free time. lol

  • I completely feel you on this, Trish – in fact, everything I do with Network Analysis is visualized in maps. The reason is very simple:

    “The eyes can think in ways that the brain cannot.” The eyes are very sensitive to patterns and colors, etc., even if most of the information our brain is processing is unconscious.

    Great visualizations are an art form – there is nothing more than impressive than ‘knowledge compression’ through visualization and mapping. Great visualization is, in my eyes, a form of relief. With today’s web and ability to store more info and data than ever before, we need a new way to ‘see’ and make sense of this data.

    When you combine eye-thinking (visuals) with numbers and text, etc., you’re bringing together 2 ways in which the mind works. To combine the language of the eye with the language of the mind is truly amazing.

    When visualized properly, data can be beautiful and lovely.

    This leads me to the notion of simplicity – in a world of Consultants and Vendors that want to make our space more and more complicated, beautiful visualization is the key to making complex things simple.

    Instead of buying into the new (but soon to be evaporated) fad that the HR Pro needs to become a Sociologist and/or Anthropologist, what we really need is beautiful visualization that keeps us focused on the right things. The insights that Steve mentions can be found within visualization; like a lighthouse cutting through the fog.

    I’d love to discuss this further with you, because I truly believe that something as simple as a tree-map an shape something as complex as looking at all our of our talent acquisition efforts through a portfolio perspective. On the surface, it seems complicated, when in reality, all you need is the right visualization to convince Upper Mgmt why increased investments in certain talent pools are necessary.

    For example, check out slides 18 and 19 here: http://www.slideshare.net/jletourneau/strategic-sourcing-talent-acquisition-revisited-redefined-gameplanned

    Slide 18 is a series of boxes showing SBU Revenue (bigger boxes = higher % of revenue) with the color indicating Revenue Growth (red = hot, blue = cold). Slide 19 is similar, but shows EBITDA per Employee. As you can see, the bottom right SBUs (in the little boxes) are small, but red hot in terms of growth.

    Thanks for the post and let’s discuss further! 🙂

    • @Josh- Wow, what an amazing comment. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m planning to post it as it’s own post. I think people will benefit from reading it. I especially loved the line, “When visualized properly, data can be beautiful and lovely.” I will be honored to discuss this further. It’s an exciting concept!

  • Trish-
    This is a great idea, and can be used to demonstrate so many things. For example, as I have been able to reconnect more often lately, I have been trying to see the similarities and differences between HRevolution and HRReinvention. If you imagine a network map showing those involved with either or both, their respective areas of expertise, their industries, and then their realtionship to various SHRM organizations, there is way to see where innovation is growing through network growth.
    I may try and make a popplet that shows something like that….

    • @Tim- Comments like yours are why I find blogging so beneficial. It takes my idea and spins it in another direction that is equally exciting! After reading all the comments, I have many new ideas on how we can be using maps in our industry and in my organization. So glad you suggested a version that would bridge various events to see the innovation and connection. Thanks!

  • Nice inspiration Trish. You set out many of the ideas that seeded our creation Jostle (www.jostle.me), a visual map of the organization that centers on capturing the full richness of how people are working together (both the collaborative and the structured parts). We then use this visualization to connect people, teams and the tools they prefer to use. Later we will add HR processes (peer review and succession planning for example) onto the same visual map platform. We are going to take your advice and play with turning up the funk!

  • This is really a great idea to incorporate maps for HR work! At least things will be more creative rather than following the boring schedule. We have always indulged system maps for better understanding the process flow in the organization then, why not maps for HR work to have a better understanding!

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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