Discover more from Structured Visual Thinking Methods
Crafting Family Life
How to use Benefit Mapping for your personal activities
Emily and Mark Martin sit at their kitchen table. They find their family’s harmony slipping away during their busy lives. One quiet evening, Emily suggests a new approach. “What if we try Benefit Mapping? We can plan backwards from our goals,” she says. Mark, weary but hopeful, agrees to the idea.
They sit down with a shared determination to redefine their family life, focusing on strengthening their bond and nurturing individual well-being. “Let’s map it out, step by step,” Emily encourages.
Emily and Mark outline their Benefit Breakdown Structure (BBS) at their kitchen table, surrounded by notes and a laptop. Emily starts, “Our first benefit is to have more quality family time.” “But is that a benefit?” “I read about how important it is, and it makes sense to me. I strongly believe that more quality family time will help us together.” “Ok, I can imagine. So… I assume we need to find changes in behaviour that will lead us there?
Mark continues, “What about an Excel Sheet to plan the food for our dinners?” Emily hesitates a few seconds, but then she lightens up. “Ah, you mean with a sheet we can plan what we will eat in the evenings? It is a good idea but doesn’t directly fit into the BBS structure. However, it will enable us to plan what we want to cook regularly and what we need to buy. Hence, it enables ‘shared family dinners’”. Mark nods, “now I understand better how this works. We plan backwards from ‘what we intend to achieve’ over the exact ’behaviour changes’. These changes later make the difference in our family life!” He likes to think aloud: “and the Excel sheet is just a one-off activity we do once to enable our changed behaviours. The Excel sheet will be relevant for planning our meetings and buying food. Hence, it indirectly enables our family time. - Yes, this makes sense!” Mark is now more enthusiastic about this.
Hence, they continue, and the interplay goes more smoothly. “We also need to focus on personal benefits,” Emily adds. “True, maybe setting aside time for hobbies or exercises?” Mark proposes. They agree on ‘reserve dedicated Time for Personal Hobbies’ as another new behaviour - even when they aren’t clear on how to find the time. “What can we do to enable time for personal hobbies and us together?” They look at each other blankly for several seconds. But then Emily speaks: “I like that question. Once you formulate the right question, the answer is often easier than expected…. In any case, the answer is that we need to find a babysitter. We discussed it earlier, but the time is ripe now.” And in this manner, they continue.
With their interactive and collaborative session shaping their BBS, the Martins set out to implement their plan. They work on establishing the enablers and using the new behaviours daily.
Over the weeks, Emily and Mark see a positive shift in their family dynamics. The structured approach of their BBS, with clearly formulated benefits, behaviour changes, and enablers, helps them create a more harmonious and connected family life. They change the BBS along the way as they learn more about what they, as a family, enjoy and need. They reflect on what works and what does not and make several mistakes - but the BBS diagram is a tool they regularly revisit and update to review their progress and discuss whether they achieve the intended benefits. And if they haven’t achieved it, they use the framework and the questions it triggers to get closer to their goals.