Introducing Journey Tiles – Journey Mapping with More Empathy and Efficiency

//Introducing Journey Tiles – Journey Mapping with More Empathy and Efficiency

Journey mapping is awesome. Very often in my work as an Employee Experience Designer I use journey maps to explore and unpack an employee’s experience through parts of their lifecycle (eg onboarding, performance meetings etc).

Journey maps have been a core tool of service and user designers because they are so useful for unpacking a person’s experience engaging with a process, service or product as well as for discovering opportunities for improvement.

With the democratisation of design, more and more people are picking up design tools and methods like journey maps and giving them a go. This has many benefits, but it also brings some risks. When it comes to journey mapping, one of the biggest risks is defaulting to mapping a process rather than the experiences – it’s an easy mistake to forget that empathy must have the central focus in the exercise.

This led us to design a tool that would allow our clients (and us) to work with a higher focus on empathy and experiences. A tool that would help address some of the key challenges I’ve noticed around journey mapping.

Let me introduce you to our latest Musketeers creation – Journey Tiles.

Journey Tiles are a set of three modular tiles that can be printed and used to map a journey more efficiently and effectively. There is a starting tile, and middle tile and a closing tile. Depending on the type of journey you want to map you can print as many middle tiles as you need.

You can download your Journey Tiles at

When using the Journey Tiles you can start by broadly naming the different stages of the journey you want to map at the granularity that makes sense to you ( it could be Before, During, After all the way to more granular multi-step detailed stages). Don’t get stuck trying to get number and names of these stages perfect, as this is a key reason why people get into “process thinking” mode. Just get the rough stages, one per Journey Tile, and transition quickly to unpacking the experiences.

Once you’ve got a Journey Tile per stage, place a little character in the circle of one of the stages (LEGO characters are a great option) and discuss:

  • What Activities this character does in this stage
  • What Goals and Desires they have during this stage
  • What Emotions they are feeling
  • What Tools and Resources they have available to them
  • What Risks and Opportunities do you see for this stage

Breaking up the group involved in the journey mapping and having them work on each Journey Tile as a self-contained unit is a good idea. Once this is done you can bring the tiles together and walk the character through the journey as a group. This then allows for iterating the map that is being created. What other insights can you gain as a group? Do you need to add or remove map any other stages?

A quick word on using a character like a Lego character. I’ll cover it in a little more detail below, but it is critical to use a physical item – there is a weird psychological impact of walking a little character through a journey (instead of imagining a persona). Physically seeing a character provides richer insights – a little more on this below.

Why Journey Tiles?

Increase efficiency – the traditional way that journey mapping is done involves a group placing sticky notes on a wall. In situations like this it’s easy to have one or two people (the ones with the sticky notes and sharpies) to do a bulk of talking/leading while other group members standing around. With the Journey Tiles different people can work on different parts at the same time and then come together for group discussion and adjustment (increasing engagement and efficiency).

Increase focus on experiences – Each Journey Tile is a self-contained unit which allows group members to isolate a specific stage of a journey and think of it as an experience in and of itself. This plays an important role in breaking down “process thinking”. It’s easy to get our minds into a “process mode” when we start journey mapping a series of linked stages, but this can rob us of the empathy insights we need from our journey maps.

Increase empathy – In addition to the point above, having a physical character in the middle of a Journey Tile engages our empathy at a much higher level.  It taps into the same psychological mechanics that make us care more for a game/product where we’ve created an avatar. Think about how you felt when playing a board game like monopoly and someone knocked your character over – somehow we become invested in these physical characters, greatly increasing our empathy. (A way to deepen this phenomenon is to allow group members to build their own LEGO characters or to build a particular persona).

Increase iterations – The Journey Tiles make it quick and easy to add, remove or redo stages. As opposed to a journey map where larger series of sticky notes are stuck on a wall, and it becomes more cumbersome to add or remove stages because this means moving many notes. It’s much easier to slide Journey Tiles over.

Do I see Journey Tiles replacing Journey Maps?

No. I see Journey Tiles as a supplement to journey mapping. A way to quickly unpack, iterate and prototype a journey which can then be put into a journey map.

Download the Journey Tiles and give them a try –

I’d love you to share your experiences using them – what worked and where you see opportunities to improve them? 

Reach out if you’d like to find out more –