During March, Metaphor Mapping was used to facilitate group meetings in Morocco, Jordan, Serbia, Moldova, Lebanon and the Philippines.
Meeting sponsors were looking for ways to establish new structures, processes and habits for organization operations – to enable them to develop innovative solutions to address significant change, and to build ownership for joint goals. They needed to build effective teams to address critical priorities.
The workshop sessions addressed an array of specific issues including: developing strategies to improve elements of national security, public safety organization improvement and process optimization. Metaphor Mapping was employed as the workshop vehicle in each case. This innovative method is best described as a new twist on the proven strategy development technique of assessing the current state of a situation, visioning an ideal state and developing an action plan. Its uniqueness is the extraordinarily high degree of openness and interaction it provokes and the creativity and ownership it generates through use of visual metaphors and sticker symbols.
In each case the sponsor’s objectives were met in a single day session. In spite of not having worked closely together before, in each case the groups became highly energized and began developing the emotional bonds that will be the foundation of teamwork during implementation and operation.
Twenty stakeholders agreeing a strategy in a day may seem remarkable, but Metaphor Mapping achieved it hundreds of times in both individual workshops and extensive corporate programs over the past 20 years.
Diverse Teams Address Complex Problems
- Teams worked across disciplines and cultures.
- Some participants had operational positions and others worked at a strategy level.
- Some were decision makers, some middle managers, some senior officers in the military; others were subject matter specialists.
- There were many different work styles and preferences (extravert/ introvert, practical/theoretical, etc.).
- Working languages included English, French, Serbian, Russian and Arabic. Because Metaphor Mapping is a visual method, the participants could work in local languages and the need for interpreters was minimal.
Challenging Issues, Quickly Resolved
The duration of meetings varied depending on the complexity of the situation and degree of polarization of participants. In general they took 90 minutes for each of three steps, and total elapsed time of 6-8 hours to:
1. Define the current state and its weaknesses
2. Develop a vision of the ideal operation
3. Set the strategy.
“It makes you change your own picture of how things work”
“It would have been good to do this before we argued so much about direction last year”
“A picture is worth a thousand words and a map is worth a million!”
“We’ve done many different exercises, but this was the most interactive”
“Mapping is hard work, even if it looks playful”
“This is stretching for your mind”
“The best part of the strategy session was the mapping. Building the little maps made everybody think and talk.”
“If you want people to get it and feel different, do Mapping. It worked for all of us!” (Aide to a government Minister)
“This is an effective tool. We’ll use it in other planning situations.” (Colonel, Internal Security)
“I will apply this immediately in incident preparation exercises” (Head of transportation safety management)
Planned workshops include topics:
- Designing the transition to a new enterprise software package
- Design of communications structure among government agencies