Post-it Notes and ANDMaps For Group Decisions

Posted on by Brandon Klein

 This is a DesignTeam (and sometimes large group) module, typically the central product of the Act phase. ANDMaps were conceived to allow users to visualize plans in terms of strategy and events over time, and enable them to see the parts of a plan in the context of the whole plan. The Annotated Network Diagram (ANDMap) is a planning and project management tool that gives form to the intention and goals developed by DesignShop participants. Typically a Synthesis Team develops the ANDMap by defining activities (Landmarks, Benchmarks, Events and Tasks) by tracks (grouping together similar activities) across a three- to five-year timeline.  For actual physical materials, you can substitute large Post-it Notes for ANDMaps. 


 To bridge from strategic planning to project management, by defining plans according to specific actions, results and timelines (while maintaining flexibility to re-design based on feedback). To synthsize the work accomplished and enable ALL of the participants to see it in terms of its implications for the future. To provide participants with a tool for sustaining their intentions once the DesignShop is past.
TIMING/TIME REQUIREMENTS: Creating an ANDMap is appropriate for the Act stage (Engineering-Building), particularly when several different kinds of activities, and their interrelationships, need to be designated, or when coordination between different units or organizations is a principal concern. An ANDMap session typically takes 3 - 6 hours.
Strengths — Encourages synthesis and strategic thinking; and requires a measure of global thinking and analytic thinking as well. A good ANDMap allows the entire group to see the planned activities that follow from their work, and for each individual to see their part of it. It can be the primary tool that bridges the design work of the ‘shop with the implementation phase that follows. Weaknesses — ANDMaps are complex, as in having many layers of meaning interwoven. People need to work with the technology awhile to understand it. This excludes its use in many short DesignShops and DesignSessions unless the participants are already familiar with the technology. When used as a DesignShop module, must be carefully monitored to ensure that the creation of the map doesn’t lag too far behind the other Act phase activities.
Specifications for Success —
1. Facilitation. Participants should be facilitated in this process, as described below. Typically, what is critical is to introduce the basics and get the participants started (and past the initial overwhelm), so that the pattern of the map emerges. Have them work from “broad brush” Landmarks then to specifics, always returning to the large-scale patterns of the map.
2. Fast-tracking. The team building the ANDMap should act with what they know, then revise or confirm the map activities by networking with other teams. 3. Completeness. ANDMaps are never “complete” — too much detail can kill it; they should be revised regularly. When necessary, sub-maps should be created, allowing the main map to keep an overview or strategic focus.
4. Follow-up. ANDMaps often require two or three iterations to become really useful. The participants and/or staff should be prepared to revisit the work once the initial ANDMap is complete. Staff should check periodically and guide use of the map over time. A common mistake is that clients often try to manage an ANDMap in traditional ways, such as assigning one group responsibility for each track of the map.
SPECIAL MATERIALS REQUIRED: ANDMap markers, WorkWalls large enough for the map being built. Twenty to 30 linear feet of WorkWall is ideal.
SPACE REQUIREMENTS: Large enough for presentation to large group.
FACILITATOR/STAFF ROLES: This module requires facilitation: sometimes to assist the group in finding synthesis or translating general goals into actual or representative benchmarks, and to explain the ANDMap technology. The full module is frequently documented with audio tape and text (summary) capture.
REPORTING: ANDMaps are typically created by a Synthesis Team, then reported to the entire group periodically during the Act phase of work.
Participants prepare “project specification sheets” and simple flow charts, which staff develop into an ANDMap following the DesignShop.