Why It Works
Although you may think you have a solid understanding of how your product or service relates to other products and services, chances are your customers have a different point of view. By helping you understand these relationships from their perspective, Spider Web helps you capture more revenue by showing you webs of potentially unknown relationships.
Spider Web is partially inspired by a requirements-analysis technique called context diagramming. Context diagramming was originally created to show the data that flows between a given software system and other entities with which this system communicates. These entities can be people, other software systems, physical devices, electromechanical devices, other sensors, and so forth. Context diagrams are a useful tool, usually created by business analysts trained to interpret the perceptions of a customer and who usually manage to make their context diagrams look very neat and tidy.
Skilled professionals who create context diagrams often face special challenges when working directly with customers. One challenge is that customers tend to create pretty messy diagrams, especially when working in groups, and the messiness can make business analysts uneasy. Another challenge is that because business analysts have often studied the problem domain before working directly with customers, they bring their own expectations of how the diagrams should look to the game. The worst situation is when business analysts attempt to guide customers into creating diagrams that match their expectations ("Don't you think your car should be drawn with a connection to your portable music player?"). The best approach in this situation is to include your business analysts as observers and empower your facilitator to keep them quiet during the game.
Spider Web, on the other hand, encourages customers to directly draw their view of the relationships. And because the real world isn't a neat and tidy place, customer-generated diagrams tend to get messy. Wonderfully messy. Realistically messy. Messy in a way that helps you understand the real opportunities for genuine innovation.