The Applications and Offerings sections describe some of the ways Metaphor Mapping is used. Here is a bit of additional perspective and short hand about when to apply these highly participative visual tools:
- Metaphor Mapping is most useful when the problem is complex and involves several groups. If there are just a few people involved, if there is no contention or polarization, a workshop is likely not needed. It may, however, still be useful to build a Village map simply to show the stakeholders and structure of the situation as a communication aid.
- Executives benefit as much from Mapping sessions as do operational staff, but execs often deal with financial and status reporting and evaluation work that is not well suited to map-building.
- If the issue at hand relates to a process, a set of connected activities to achieve an objective, then it most certainly is a candidate for Mapping. The issue need not be how to fix a problem, it could also be:
- “Things are going well, but how might we do better?”, or
- “We know competitors may be taking a special action in the future. How might we operate differently to respond or leapfrog them?”
- Assessing today’s operation, visioning an ideal, planning to achieve it with specific focus on obstacles and possible unanticipated outcomes are the most common uses of Metaphor Mapping. If you want a solution that engages stakeholders, uses a collaborative approach and results in joint commitment to results, you will be delighted with a Mapping workshop
- If you also use the Facecards tool to ensure clear responsibilities, you’ll be pleased with the sense of personal responsibility that continues throughout implementation
- If you use the Zoo tool to address any mismatched role expectations, you can further energize the group