Molecule Map

Molecule Map

Quickly generate many possible solutions after identifying who the user is and what problem they have


Kickoff Inception Remote

Suggested Time

45-60 min


Core team, stakeholders

Why do it?

Molecule maps help team members understand that there are multiple possible solutions to a user’s need, and that solutions are best understood alongside their relationship to these users and needs

When to do it?

Early in the project, normally during Kickoff and Inception.

What supplies are needed?

  • Whiteboard or digital version like Miro
  • Sharpies
  • 8.5" x 11” or larger A4 paper

How to use this method remotely?

There is currently a remote template available in Miro. Here you will find step instructions on how to conduct this practice remotely including general tips and info.

1. Open Miro. In the side menu, select 'Templates'

Open Miro. In the side menu, select 'Templates'

2. Search for "Tanzu" to see all, or 2. Search for "Tanzu" to see all, or click here to use this template

Search for the template and click ADD

How to Use this Method

Sample Agenda & Prompts

  1. Review the Crafting a Molecule presentation and familiarize yourself with the concept, how to arrive at solutions, and how to identify anti-patterns.

  2. Draw an example molecule on the physical or digital whiteboard

    • Persona — Who are we helping? (use the Personas practice) practice if you haven’t created one yet)
    • Problem — What is one of their problems?
    • Solution — What is our solution?

    Blank Molecule Map

  3. Get into groups of 3 or ask each person to draw 3 circles on a piece of paper and draw multiple molecules. Come up with as many solutions as possible.

    Remote Tip: Many video chat systems support “breakout rooms” or similar means to temporarily divide large groups into smaller groups for closer collaboration. Also, feel free to use real paper and hold it up to the camera when the group is remote.

    Filled Molecule Map

  4. Tape or upload molecules onto the board. Treat these as assumptions to go validate.

  5. Silent read & dot vote to get down to 1 molecule

Success/Expected Outcomes

Success is when you have agreement on the problem and solution (aka snapshot)to move forward with as a team. You’re doing it right when you are thinking of users as humans.

Real World Examples

Close up of a detailed molecule map drawn on a whiteboard with persona in the center

Close up of a molecule map drawn on a whiteboard