Category Archives: Facilitation

Journey Maps

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Journey maps are used often in the private sector to map out a customer’s experience of a product or service. It identifies customer needs and wants, motivations, and interactions with the product or service from beginning or end.

In terms of a journey map for you collaborative or collective impact initiative, here are some of the things it can do for you:

  • Tell the story of your collaborative journey from initial start through engagement, to where you are today
  • Can be the whole story or part of the story.
  • Identify key milestones, interactions, successes, set backs and other key touchpoints
  • Provide history for new comers
  • Deepen/expand understanding of what works and what doesn’t or of choices that were made or need to be made.
  • Helps visualize where the journey is going.

Journey Maps are visual treatments in which key steps, milestone, and decision points are identified in relationship to each other.

Download the entire Journey Map Handout (PDF).


Often we struggle talking to one another because our thoughts and ideas are positioned as separate from, if not against, the thoughts and ideas of others. Dialogue is a practice developed by David Bohm and others that focuses on the “shared exploration towards greater understanding, connection, or possibility.” Suggested guidelines for dialogue are:

We talk about what’s really important to us.
Sometimes we jump around in discussions, allow ourselves to meander to tangents that keep us from what the group really needs to discuss and figure out. It is important to find the balance between staying on topic and allowing flexibility in the exchange. What a group talks about should be determined by the group, not just one or two individuals.

We really listen to each other. We see how thoroughly we can understand each other’s views and experience.
Active listening means asking questions and helping others get their ideas out. Too often we are formulating our response to what someone is saying while they are saying it. Bohm would argue our attention on the speaker should include actively seeking the meaning she or he is trying to convey before we speak on the topic we wish to speak on.

We say what’s true for us without making each other wrong.
Diversity is good. We need varying opinions. In fact, learning depends on differing perspectives and constructive criticism and exchange. Positional arguments however tend to focus on who is right and who is wrong. In dialogue we seek to speak out truth while accepting and encouraging the truth of others. My position or belief is what it is. I do not have to convey it AND also make others feel that their truth is wrong.

We see what we can learn together by exploring things together.
Often in discussions we do not stop to ask what the group has learned or gleaned so far. Where are we in the discussion? What, if anything, has changed in our collective thinking so far? Also, the concept of “exploring together” implies an understanding that we are not all starting with answers or the right answers but are open, through inquiry and discussion, to find a better way, a better idea, and a common aspiration of action.

We avoid monopolizing the conversation. We make sure everyone has a chance to speak or contribute.
Some people talk more than others, and sometimes people use their voice to silence others. If diversity of perspective is valued, then hearing the voices of all involved should be encouraged by the group. This requires discipline. The easy talker needs to become more facilitative of the voices of others. The one less inclined to speak has to become more vocal if being heard is valued. As well, finding other ways to exchange ideas can be helpful – through workshopping an idea (using group exercises, sticky notes, etc.) or answering some questions on line.

Imagine if the group could master these five guidelines. The quality, range, and depth of the exchange would increase, more would get done, and it would get done at a good pace.

Collaboration: convergence to create new value

Do a Google search on “collaboration” and the majority of hits you generate will actually be about collaboration tools or software, not the activity of collaboration. This is similar to the concept of customer relationship management. Search for that phrase and you end up with a litany of CRM software tools.  I would not suggest collaboration or CRM technologies are not good tools to have, but they are just that: tools.

Collaboration is about people. These people may represent organizations and do so well, but ultimately organizational action is all about people acting – acting individually, acting in cooperation with others, and collaborating, the latter being the highest expression of organzational and thus indivual action.

Ironically, a definition of collaboration I favor is offered up in a survey report by Cisco Systems (source link). The authors suggest that collaboration is an “open-ended series of interactions intended to go beyond individual strengths to create a new source of value.” 

The “open-ended series of interactions” component of the definition speaks to the fact that people who come together to leverage their talents, experience, and resources not only are unable to predict the outcome(s) of their interactions but know (or should know) such a convergence can create, new knowledge, new thinking, and new behaviors that cannot be restrained by policy, bureacracy, or other authoritarian filters and constraints.

This is why people want to collaborate and why people are afraid to collaborate. True collaboration cannot be controlled. It can be denied or blocked, but once  alive it is its own creature.

Why Planning Goes Wrong

The biggest reason plan’s fail is that people don’t do the plan. They don’t do it because they have not collectively embraced it, have not structured their work to do it, and are not spending the time and effort to make changes in behavior to do it. This is why all strategic planning consultants and writers will tell you that a plan’s success depends on the unwavering leadership and involvement of the CEO. If that is absent, the change required to bring plans to life will not happen.

A second reason why plans fail is that organizations (i.e. the people within them) fail to make tough decisions during and after the planning process. Strategy is about making choices and decisions in order to succeed. During what I call the “strategic dialog” aspects of planning, we need diverse perspectives at the table, which means people do not always see things the same way or come to the same conclusions about what direction to go in.

Such diversity should create strategic options that the organization can look at and then make decisions about. The very nature of dialog and of identifying options is such that not everyone’s individual perspective will prevail. The hope is the diverse perspectives will amalgamate into strategies and common aspirations that are more effective than anyone could produce on their own.  The tough decision part is recognizing that for every YES an organization states, there is at least an implied NO.  While dialog involves compromise, it can’t result in conclusions that please everyone by watering things down to the point where there are at best weak strategies striving for a vague vision of the future.

Another reason why planning can fail is when organizations do not involve the right people in the process. Continue reading Why Planning Goes Wrong