A New Facilitation Tool for your Toolkit

Group Map – a new Facilitation Tool

I’ve updated my facilitation tool kit and am considering throwing away the flipchart…almost

In two recent workshops I’ve utilised the online facilitation tool, Group Map, to capture outputs. It’s a great alternative to the omni-present flipchart paper that can often bring groans of ‘you’re making us work’ when they’re rolled out in a workshop.

My Facilitators Inner Circle buddy, Will Bessen, got me onto Group Map. He felt that it:

  • Helps avoid ‘group think’
  • Assists getting full contribution in real time
  • Speeds up the way we collect information
  • Provides a heap of ‘templates’ to for participants to discuss, collect, rate and prioritise their ideas
  • Enables instant reporting – without having to fight through reams of flipchart paper.

So what is this Facilitation Tool?

Group Map is simply an online facilitation tool that enables you to capture individual thinking first, then reveal the group perspective, all in real-time. Sound familiar?

The beauty is that all input is captured electronically as you proceed in real time, allowing you to instantly bring up a group’s response to a question on a large screen. This saves significant time in the reporting stage of a workshop as there’s no more wrestling with flipchart paper or trying to decipher dodgy handwriting. What you instead see is clear, well organised (or prioritised) ideas.

How have I used it?

My first workshop using Group Map was a review of the WA Waste and Recycle Conference. I only had two hours for the workshop, so I set up two Group Maps to get participant input beforehand. The first map got them to rate how well the conference was meeting its objectives. The second map got them to undertake a SWOT analysis and rank the opportunities. These were then used in the workshop as a basis for planning for future conferences.

The second workshop was part of the Australian Dairy Leaders Alumni summit. Participants chose one of four topics to work on as within a break-out group. Each group identified three BIG ideas to develop to provide leadership to their community or industry in relation to the topic.

The benefits of Group Map as a Facilitation Tool

In both cases using Group Map allowed more time for discussion of the topic as the reporting back time was much more streamlined. The information recorded was copied straight into the workshop report that the client had delivered to them within 24 hours. With a bit of fine-tuning this could be reduced even further.

The challenges of Group Map as a Facilitation Tool

It took me much longer to prepare for both events, as I wanted to make sure I was on top of the technology and ready to deal with any hiccups that arose. You also must have a good internet connection for all devices that you’re using during the workshop. Otherwise you run the risk of losing data and frustrating participants.

The verdict

If you’re using Group Map, you still need to plan sound, simple and logical facilitation processes. With reasonable planning (and a decent wifi connection) it will give you loads of flexibility in capturing and sharing individual and group ideas.

Time for a Test Drive

I’m interested in the topics that you’d like to explore through these newsletters and Facilitation TV in 2016. Use this to identify the topics you’d like me to Stop, Start or Continue.

Then group them (drag and drop) and vote on your faves! Make sure to click on the tab at the top of the screen for each stage (Brainstorm; Group; Vote; Results) as you go along.

You may need to wait for a few ideas from other people to go up for going to the grouping and voting stages.


PS – this is not a paid announcement on Group Map! I just want you to have the best possible facilitation tools at your disposal.

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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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