FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Metaphor Mapping

Who has used Metaphor Mapping? Is it totally new or does it have a track record?

Village Mapping and River Mapping have been applied extensively by facilitators in large companies, international agencies and governments since 1988. The Zoo and Facecards are more recently developed tools. The logos at bottom of the home page show the main users of over 300 workshops.   Companies that have used Metaphor Mapping include:

 What do I need to get started?

First, you can always have your questions answered by email or phone by using the Contact Us” link.

If you want to lead group sessions, you need to become certified.  Read more about this in the “Consultant’s Corner

Certification provides the level of training your choose and gives you access to:

  • The on-line Metaphor Mapping tool
  • The Guide to each language, which includes when to use it, how to build a map and dictionary
  • Ability to purchase workshop kits (booklets of symbols on stickers)
  • Printable and downloadable images for each language

I understand certification comes with a digital tool?  What’s it for?

The on-line digital Metaphor Mapping tool or symbol libraries that can be used with Powerpoint or other programs allow you to build a map in digital form.  This can provide documentation of a workshop or aid in presenting results.

 

Can I take photos of maps?

Yes. Just pull out your digital camera or phone. Depending on your camera, it may be best to take an overall shot and others that zoom in on parts.

Where can I get help?

If you have a question, we would be happy to help. The best way is to Contact Us and send a note.

– See more at: http://www.metaphormapping.com/applications/faq/#sthash.4mmluXTQ.dpuf

Change Organization Habits

Change management workshop

Skepticism. Resentment. Confusion. Uncertainty.  

Not how we do things here.

Overcome resistance with participative tools!
Organizations are like people.  They develop habits.  Habits are hard to break. Development and change happen when there’s a pull as well as a push. What can you do to establish an environment where people will pull? It can be tough when change is driven from top down. People may be bruised by the power exerted, feel dis-respected or vulnerable. A sense of powerlessness may lead people to become passive or adopt negative behaviors when major organizational change is under way. A way to avoid or cure these problems is to engage the “victims” of top-down change in defining how things will work in their processes beneath the mandated structure of their new world.

Each individual must be able to answer the question “What’s this mean to me?” in order to become comfortable and productive with change management. If a new organization structure has been mandated by top management, a Village mapping workshop soon following the announcement allows groups to define their new process at an operations level. When showing the activities and relationships needed, each can symbolize obstacles to effectiveness he perceives. Tagging their concerns with symbols externalizes them and makes them easier to address.  The visual image makes it easier to form new organization habits.

In cases where top management challenges the organization to develop new bottoms-up ideas for organizational effectiveness, the four metaphor languages are ideal vehicles for multiple groups to develop alternative visions of an ideal operation, compare and reconcile them.

Metaphors and the different thinking they provoke are valuable catalysts for seeing new and better ways of operating. A Village map is best for that application. When a vision is agreed and the Zoo and Facecards have shown the roles, responsibilities and attitudes that will make it successful, a River map helps focus creativity on how to overcome obstacles to achieving the vision.

You can use it as a change management game to draw out alternate future directions.  Showing process flow is highly useful as a predecessor to organization design.

Metaphor Mapping:  Visual, Engaging.   Organization habit forming!   Increasingly, a best practice for change management.

 

For more on changing organization habits see the post that briefly explores how Metaphor Mapping relates to Charles Duhig’s The Power of Habit

Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg - Book Cover Image 3-27-12

Gamify your change program

Applying game elements and game techniques– such as challenges, points/badges/rewards, avatars and leaderboards– to business situations holds a great deal of promise for increasing morale and focus.  Games imply having some fun, not a bad thing, and they imply competition, usually a good thing.  Games can have serious intent and results.

At the Research Center, we’re just beginning to explore the natural synergies between gamification and Metaphor Mapping.  The novel, visual symbolic aspects of building Maps with sticker symbols fit naturally with games. Also, Mapping is often used as part of large corporate change programs where Mapping sessions cascade from corporate offices to the field.  Challenging operating divisions or global regions to be the first to engage all of their units in an organization streamlining, supply chain improvement, culture change or other seems a natural extension.

We’ll write up results from first pilots and keep you informed of what we learn in the months ahead.  Let us know if you’d like to run a pilot of your own and we’ll be glad to support you.

 

 

Resistance to change

If someone were to ask you: “What’s the biggest issue in managing change?” chances are good you’d answer “Overcoming resistance”.  Right?  If you were to then ask me “So how to overcome resistance?” my answer would be “Involve everyone affected.” 

When a change is your idea, you can’t be against it and are likely to enthusiastically sell it to everyone you see. Sounds easy BUT most changes originate as somebody else’s idea.  For example, the CFO says “We’ve got to cut costs by 15%!”.  “What to do then?”  While the idea for a change usually can’t be jointly owned, everyone can own the task of “how to make it happen?.

That’s where Metaphor Mapping shines.  When the boss says you’ve got to cut 15%, go ahead and think about how’d you’d do it, but, don’t do it.  Bring together the people affected.  If that’s a lot of people, start with your peers.  Get their creative juices going by Mapping today’s problem and at least one solution.  Bring in more people at lower levels.  Show them what their bosses came up with and ask them to either:

  1. Come up with a totally new approach or
  2. Show how they can make it happen in their area without hurting overall performance.  If your organization is hierarchical, you’ll likely focus them only on this option

When you visually map a problem, it’s not so scary any more.  When you cook up unusual solutions with sticker symbols, you’re automatically forgiven for being too far out of the box.  But, when you Map it together you’re all in it together.  You’ll come up with a solution that you all own and make happen!  Try it.  It works every time!

The Logo

The Research Center logo

logo_white

The MLRC chose a logo consistent with its mission.  Geese flying in a wedge formation confers many aerodynamic benefits to all the group members, except for the leader.  Each flies in the upwash from the wings of the bird ahead reducing drag by up to 65% and increasing range by 70%.  The birds rotate equally through the fatiguing role of leading.    Metaphor Mapping aims to align teams in an optimal way and help them achieve benefits similar to these astounding levels.

More detail about the benefits of flying in a “V” or wedge from wikipedia

 

BUILD A PICTURE STORY OF YOUR PROCESS

BUILD A PICTURE STORY OF YOUR PROCESS

Metaphor Mapping – a fast, fun way to align your team

Users build maps of their environment, processes and plans using sticker symbols.  A village and its components are a process, where buildings are work centers, roads show relationships and flows.  A river represents a plan.  Goals, activities and obstacles are shown symbolically along the river bank.  The symbols ensure good communication, facilitate discussion of difficult topics, ensure systems thinking and creative visioning.

MM Overview - from brochure

How Metaphor Mapping helps teams align themselves

1. All Team Members Contribute

Metaphor Mapping was designed to make “big tent” groups effective.  In Mapping workshops, there are no leaders or bosses.  Everyone contributes based on their knowledge and ideas.  The map-building process gently reinforces this at many points.

2. The Team Agrees its Goals

Following an introduction, workshops typically start with analysis of the current state of an operation.  After the environment, structure and problems have been agreed,  the group defines an ideal state where current problems have been resolved and their objectives are being met.  Tools include a Village Map to define the process and a Zoo Map to define the attitudes and behaviors needed for success.

3. The Team Agrees and Executes a Plan

The team then defines how they will move from the current to the ideal state.  Visual tools include a River Map to define the strategy, a Deep Dive Map to go into detail on critical points and a Facecards Map to define roles and responsibilities.

The workshop process and serious-play stickers ensure focus. high energy and ownership of results.

Teamwork, Collaboration and the skills needed

A team is a group of people who work together to achieve a goal.   Think your division’s marketing team or– a sports team.  A captain and many coaches calling the plays and telling you how to work better together.

Football teamA collaboration is when two or more individuals or groups work together to achieve a goal, with nobody being the formal leader.  This is often the case when working in “partnership” across organizations or companies.  There may be nobody to make decisions or resolve differences. That’d be like the marketing groups from two divisions planning a promotion to a big client—or, a composer and lyricist working writing a song.  Lot’s of tough and creative work to do, and it’s up to you to sort out how to work together to make a hit record.

Composer-lyricist collaborationAll the skills needed for successful teams are needed for successful collaboration, but, collaboration’s bar is higher because there’s no oversight.  Success depends entirely on the will and skill of the participants.  If they’re not happy, they can reduce or stop their involvement using excuses such as “other priorities” just by not showing up.

  1. Collaboration is voluntary, at least to a degree.
  2. Lack of mutual respect and trust is poison.
  3. A process of interaction, setting priorities and decision making must be agreed
  4. A vision and strategy must be arrived at by consensus
  5. Roles must be agreed but changeable based on circumstance

Collaboration of diverse groups can generate novel solutions to client problems and new product and service ideas.  Increasing need for speed, flexibility and change mean collaboration skill will become a differentiator.  Organizations that rely on formal leaders to drive innovation will not be able to compete.

Fast, Slow Thinking

Fast, Slow Thinking

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Avoiding thinking traps with Metaphor Mapping

The Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow is a highly regarded research-based analysis of the many flaws in human decision-making and judgement.  It surveys key elements of behavior research and behavioral economics.  Without intending, it also describes many aspects of our thought processes that explain why Metaphor Mapping has proven effective in helping groups and individuals solve problems and set change strategies.

Foundation concept: System 1 vs System 2

There are two protagonists in Kahneman’s book.  System 1 is “fast” thinking.  It’s always “on” and you may not be conscious it.  It’s automatic and emotional because it doesn’t require attention.  It is intuitive, emotional and my personal view is it has a visual quality to it.  System 2 is “slow” thinking.  We’re conscious of it, it’s analytic and takes effort and we often think of it as our self.   Fast thinking spontaneously generates ideas while System 2 applies rational analysis to validate and detail the ideas.  System 2, however, is lazy.  It will often just accept ideas from System 1 if they appear plausible.  This can have serious consequences because without the critical analysis of System 2, System 1 has three main weaknesses that can lead us into traps:

  1. It views issues too narrowly
  2. It is more sensitive to loss than to gain
  3. It tends to be optimistic and overconfident

(This view of our thinking mechanism is become  quite widely accepted.  Maria Konnikova, in her 2013 book “Mastermind: How to think Like Sherlock Holmes” defines the two systems this way:  System 1 = “Watson thinking” and System 2 = “Holmes thinking”) Konnikova emphasizes the importance of bringing wandering attention back to the problem at hand, which is further discussed under Peer Challenge.mastermind_konnikova - THINK LIKE SHERLOCK HOLMES

Context manipulation – Priming, Framing, Anchoring

Metaphor Mapping guards against any inadvertent or intentional manipulation of the focus of goals and solution alternatives around one particular aspect of the challenge at hand. This risk is serious because of the numerable examples of looking one way at a small and “noisy” problem while a silent big threat is developing unseen by all but a few.  Mapping accomplishes this by efficiently bringing together all the stakeholders and then by forcing visual communication and analysis of the big picture.  By broadening the frame of evaluation, visioning and planning, it avoids putting too much weight on one aspect of an issue at the expense of others of equal or greater impact.

Metaphor Mapping requires the issue at hand to be framed end-to-end.  It prevents the group’s collective mind from wandering because the problem’s context and specifics of its operations are continuously on display.

Constructive Peer Challenge

Other thought traps include: Loss aversion, Prospect theory, Halo effect, Avoidance, Illusion of validity, Illusion of skill, Certainty effect, Constructive peer challenge.  Through the mapping process that continually displays the big picture of the groups thoughts, minds are concentrated in a symbolic, almost playful way,  on all aspects of the issue at hand.  That makes it natural and non-threatening to challenge ideas, evaluations and priorities.  Maps created with stickers on flip charts encourage critical examination on both intellectual and emotional levels.  “Is that the way things really work today?”  “Does that symbol exaggerate the impact of the problem?” (Is the obstacle a crocodile or a duck?)  These are constructive questions aimed at the ideas represented by the stickers and not aimed at those people.  It becomes easy for the originator of an idea to discus its various aspects and agree to a different symbol as may be suggested by another group member.  By the time such challenges and added thoughts have run their course, the full group has contributed to the result and owns it.

COLLABORATE to INNOVATE

COLLABORATE to INNOVATE

Teamwork, Collaboration and the skills needed

A team is a group of people who work together to achieve a goal.   Think your division’s marketing team or– a sports team.  A captain and many coaches calling the plays and telling you how to work better together.

Football teamA collaboration is when two or more individuals or groups work together to achieve a goal, with nobody being the formal leader.  This is often the case when working in “partnership” across organizations or companies.  There may be nobody to make decisions or resolve differences. That’d be like the marketing groups from two divisions planning a promotion to a big client—or, a composer and lyricist working writing a song.  Lot’s of tough and creative work to do, and it’s up to you to sort out how to work together to make a hit record.

Composer-lyricist collaborationAll the skills needed for successful teams are needed for successful collaboration, but, collaboration’s bar is higher because there’s no oversight.  Success depends entirely on the will and skill of the participants.  If they’re not happy, they can reduce or stop their involvement using excuses such as “other priorities” just by not showing up.

  1. Collaboration is voluntary, at least to a degree.
  2. Lack of mutual respect and trust is poison.
  3. A process of interaction, setting priorities and decision making must be agreed
  4. A vision and strategy must be arrived at by consensus
  5. Roles must be agreed but changeable based on circumstance

Collaboration of diverse groups can generate novel solutions to client problems and new product and service ideas.  Increasing need for speed, flexibility and change mean collaboration skill will become a differentiator.  Organizations that rely on formal leaders to drive innovation will not be able to compete.

 

 Catalyze Collaboration!

 A new training offering for your 2015 portfolio

For new or in-tact teams

It employs action learning: The team’s business issue is the core of class activity

038

The Offering

Catalyze Collaboration! takes an action-learning approach to teach and give participants the experience in techniques of teamwork when there’s no leader to set direction and allow differences.  Many of its principles are described in the eBook LEADING FROM THE MIDDLE – Collaboration Through MetaphorsLeading-from-the-Middle

  1. Principles for Successful Collaboration are explained and experienced

Personal skills

Structure when dealing with collaborating groups

Generating collaborative energy

How visualization promotes innovation

2. Class alternatives

Half day class:

  • Introduction to collaboration principles (above)
  • Build collaborative map of today’s state of the team’s area of interest
  • Build a collaborative vision
  • Review collaboration principles

One day class:

  • Team also builds a strategy, with focus on overcoming obstacles

One and a half day class:

  • Team also builds visual/symbolic grid of roles/responsibilities and addresss attitudes and behaviors with visual symbols

 

  1. What’s unique about “Catalyze Collaboration!”?

High participant engagement is assured by action-learning on one of participants’ core issues.

The Metaphor Mapping process is known for bringing classroom energy, openness and creativity.  Stickers of familiar objects within metaphors become a language for collaborative and disciplined work sessions.  For example, participants portray their ongoing operational activity as a village with houses, roads, storm clouds, swamps and fallen trees having specific meaning.  They may show values that dominate the village and aspects of the environment, such as a prison of old ideas or a volcano that risks changing the landscape.  Participants build their strategy as a river flowing through time—actions they will take plus sand bars, hidden rocks and crocodiles.  The method leads them to consider assistance needed to overcome obstacles and possible undesirable outcomes if they take a wrong turn. Responsibilities are powerfully stated when team members assign roles with images.

The sticker symbols help group members warm to their task, understand each other and work together readily regardless of prior tensions.  The “serious play” of mapping a big picture vision or strategy with metaphors opens participants to new ways of thinking and draws out everyone’s best ideas.  Those ideas are eventually owned by all when symbol after symbol is added to the map.  There’s no question of “buying in” to the vision and strategy.  They built it together and own it together.

 4. Value to participants

  • Understand the theory and gain experience applying collaboration principles that have been proven in over 400 sessions and over 30 countries
  • Increased understanding of teammates’ perspectives
  • Participate in analyzing the team’s current operation and creating a shared vision
  • Participants in full day and longer courses learn to build a shared strategy, establish roles and responsibilities in a visual way, deal with sometimes hidden attitudes and behaviors
  • Facilitator/trainer is an international consultant and experienced executive at major corporations
  1. Value to the greater organization and the training department

  • Action-learning on a skill of critical importance to organization effectiveness
  • This high energy, workshop style class will generate immediate, valuable benefits to participating team

Information about our trainers and pricing can be found at Catalyze Collaboration training.

MEET YOUR GOALS TOGETHER

MEET YOUR GOALS TOGETHER

Vision and Strategy are Steps Forward,

but,

Execution Wins Races

When a team walks out at the end of a Metaphor Mapping workshop, they’re ready to execute.  They know where the want to go, they have a plan, they’ve “got it” emotionally as well as logically.  The commitments they made to each other are captured in maps they’ve all agreed.  No ambiguity.  If you agreed to be designated the “ace” for an activity, you own making it happen.  If you were designated the “queen” or “king” of that same activity, you are a decision partner and committed to make it happen.

Facecards grid example 8-7-14

Bringing your team together in a “big tent” Big tent - with peopleensures the best ideas, practical critiques, and ownership for results.  

It works.  Give it a try.

Elevator pitch 3

 

Elevator pitch 4

Metaphors that help young people

Successful Adventures offers enrichment programs that help students build thinking, social and leadership skills.  At times, they use metaphors to help students set objectives:

http://www.successfuladventures.com/

Copyright 2016 - Metaphor Language Research Center LLC