Jim Kalbach gets teams to map experiences


Today I talk with Jim Kalbach, author of Mapping Experiences, an amazing resource for anyone who wants to help a group of people gain alignment..alignment on what's actually happening in their organization, with their customers, and alignment on where to go next.

This season, I'm investigating ideas and tools around thinking alone and thinking together.

Thinking together matters because whenever we meet, it's a chance to make a choice...and if our thinking is habitual, based on power dynamics or just plain haphazard, the choices we make will be habitual and haphazard! Great facilitators help groups of people think together in amazing ways...Jim is an ace facilitator and I'm thrilled to talk with him today! If you want to see our faces, there is a video in YouTube of our conversation.

As Jim said (to my heart's delight) It's not the map, it's the conversation *about* the map that creates real change. The map is just a durable artifact of the conversation, and lasts longer, communicates better, than a report or slide deck. It's also something people build together, so it gains power from the IKEA effect...people love what they invest time in.

We also talked about the powerful draw the idea of "mapping" has for people: It's like asking for a name brand mustard! He got a call from an amazing organization called Hedayah way out in Dubai to do a mapping workshop for former radical extremists to talk about their journeys out of radicalization and into helping others. He Had to figure out *where* in the long journey of the extremist's experience the work needed to be focused...and we talk about how he got it wrong and how it got it right.

Some key takeways from our conversation are in the show notes on the conversation factory.com:


1. The Map Frames the Narrative,  but leave it incomplete, creating  a  lean forward Conversation

This is one really interesting takeaway from our conversation: Jim is very intentional about how much to do *with* the group, live and in person and how much to build *for* them, through research and his own reflective  process. Leaving it incomplete helps people enter into the world of the map and make it their own. Showing a perfect artifact is *not* the point of these tools. He sees it as a proposal, an opening to the conversation, like a first offer in a negotiation.

2. Alignment is not Groupthink: Breaking the team up helps them work together honestly

Jim calls these maps he makes "alignment diagrams" because they help the team see the same world. But the time spent with people in the room isn't about getting everyone to agree on your map, it's about getting everyone's perspectives out and up on the wall and rebuilding the map to match everyone's understanding, knowledge and experience

3. Where to play, how to win: Focus on a portion of the map for clearer insights

Hendauah asked him to come to Dubai and bring together former gang bangers, white supremacists and Al Qaida members to talk about and map their experiences. T here's a long arc of that experience...and the organization wanted the focus on a particular *moment* in the journey: Not the radicalization journey, not the de-radicalization journey...but the journey of those who choose to help de-radicalize others. Figuring that focus out took a lot of conversation with his partners in Dubai. The more specific you are about your journey "moment" the more clear your work can be...you can zoom in on what's really crucial...and situate that moment in a larger arc.

4. Map the workshop experience, manage the energy

Find an arc and a flow for your mapping workshop: Just like your customers have experiences that you can map, you can map the experience of the team as you think about how they will enter into the workshop, what the flow of energy will be...and always have a plan B: keeping things moving along. Jim talks about shifting the energy and activities between introspective, conversational and game-based.


We also talk about remote workshopping and more!


Links and notes

mapping experiences: The book!

Hedayah: The NGO Jim worked with to map the experiences of violent extremists

this book isn't just about software, it's about any challenge with people: brand, customer experiences, social challenges

the hero's journey

star wars and the hero's journey (a fun episode of the ted radio hour)

being thoughtful about who to bring along with you on the pre-work interviews

it's not the diagram, it's the process of building the diagram

The chronology of the experience phases  follows a certain logic (although arbitrary), along with tracking Doing/Thinking/Feeling at each moment

The 5 Es of Experience Design: A handy framework

Experience Inventories with the 5Es: a conversation guide

Facilitation Means designing conversations

Have a Goal at the end of the map, use Verbs

Shout out to GameStorming: Looking at Game Mechanics to get teams to work together better

To get the team to read the map, get the team to give themselves (ie, their company) a letter grade at each moment in the map

How do you keep the momentum of the conversation going? The Map can be the compact, compelling artifact that keeps the thread of the conversation going: A touchstone

How can you get from the map to an experiment?

Remote can work with the right tools, enough focus and time: Don't try to replicate the in-person experience...but a mapping workshop is a good reason to get a geographically spread out team together.

Mural.com is a great tool for this, but you *must* rethink your methods, cycle through your participants and break exercises into much smaller chunks of 3-10 minutes.

To get remote to work, weave multiple tools together to give people a multi-tasking mindset *on the workshop*...using chat, surveys, mural and other tools.

The remote design thinking workshop with Glenn Fajardo and Kal Joffres with the D.School.

Don 't have mixed remote/located teams: different paces of communication make it very hard

The experience map can become a container for the interviews, empathy and notes as the workshop progresses.