Creating Processes for Change with Effective Facilitation

Effective facilitation plays a crucial role in driving transformation and fostering collaboration. With hybrid and remote work here to stay, online facilitation tools have become indispensable for professionals like Rachel Gooen. Rachel works with mission-driven organizations that focus on developing healthy people, healthy ecosystems and healthy communities. To do this she facilitates transformative processes to deliver change. She has found great success in curating those processes with the help of GroupMap. Here we delve into Rachel’s experience as a client of GroupMap. We explore her use of the tool and the impact it has had on her facilitation process. By harnessing the power of online facilitation, Rachel creates engaging, inclusive, and transformative experiences for diverse groups seeking change.

Facilitation for the better

Rachel’s journey as a facilitator began with her realization that communities and individuals often require support and guidance to navigate change effectively.

“I … [wanted to]…bring all the voices together so they could hear each other and we could come up with the direction or solution to what they are talking about.”

Armed with qualifications in both environmental science and social work, Rachel embarked on a mission to understand the intricacies of change management and facilitate transformative processes.

Discovering GroupMap

Rachel first encountered GroupMap during the COVID-19 pandemic when the world transitioned to remote work. 

Seeking tools she could use in the online facilitation space, Rachel explored various options and found GroupMap. While other tools seemed overly complex, with participants sometimes struggling to navigate them effectively, GroupMap provided a seamless user experience, allowing participants to easily contribute their thoughts and ideas. 

The role of process design in facilitation

For Rachel, the process is everything; and with GroupMap, she had a tool that took the effort out of building it.

“Having a well-designed process allows people to be comfortable, safe and be able to share what they want to share.”


As a facilitator, her key considerations when building her process is the ease of use for participants. “I don’t want to make something with too many steps or too many complex motions.  I also think about visual appeal and simplicity.  The goal is to help people have an easy time entering their thoughts.”


She often uses


Brainstorm-Action-Results when shaping her maps.

Rachel finds the range of templates available in GroupMap particularly useful.

Unlike other online facilitation tools that may require extensive setup, GroupMap’s simplicity and pre-designed templates were game-changers. Importantly, the templates helped save Rachel time.

Saving time

In addition to the ready-to-use templates, Rachel observed the time-saving effect of a number of other features. 

Firstly, the intuitive, user-friendly nature of the tool eliminated the need to allocate training time to her sessions. Participants can easily navigate the platform, contributing their ideas and feedback without any technical difficulties or learning curves. 

Next, GroupMap eliminates the need for Rachel to spend time manually writing details up on a whiteboard. Instead, ideas are simultaneously added by each participant, and the platform captures and organizes them in real-time. This not only saves time but also ensures that all ideas are captured accurately. 

The ability to export ideas via the report feature is incredibly useful for facilitators like Rachel. They can easily compile summaries of their sessions eliminating the tedious task of transcribing hundreds of post-it notes at its end. This streamlined process of capturing and exporting ideas can enable facilitators to report efficiently, providing valuable insights and outcomes to an organization.

Enhancing collaboration and engagement

The use of GroupMap has enabled Rachel to gather more information from her participants than face-to-face facilitation tends to deliver. Participants seem to know intuitively how to use the online collaboration tool. They appear to happily use it to contribute their ideas because it’s just so simple to do so.

Rachel shared an example of a meeting with a group discussing  invasive aquatic species. By using GroupMap, participants were able to provide input that surpassed the level of engagement achieved in previous in-person meetings.

“…they all felt like we got more information than we would have if we’d just had a discussion.”

The tool facilitated a more efficient and productive session, resulting in a wealth of ideas and perspectives that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

GroupMap also helped Rachel deliver an ‘a-ha’ moment that couldn’t have otherwise happened. With the word cloud feature in mind, she used a simple map, and invited participants to quickly offer their thoughts.

“I made a single column map, titled it “Wish it forward!”  and gave these instructions:   Type in a one word wish for the future WMCC to help them get off to a great start.”

Within a minute, they had created a word cloud. The largest word ‘focus’ appeared at the center. Under it was “collaborate’. Surrounding these were words of encouragement and support.

“… everyone in the room gasped. It was a little bit of magic, and something I could not do in person.”

The moment had such a positive impact on the group that it was agreed the word cloud would be framed and presented to the new incumbents.

Adapting to hybrid environments

Rachel has used GroupMap in the hybrid space. 

In a recent meeting, she incorporated GroupMap into the session to accommodate both in-person and online participants. It also happened to be a meeting for which a number of in-person participants arrived without a laptop. 

Once the spare computers were allocated, there was no need to panic. Rachel was able to guide participants to access GroupMap on their mobile devices.

Again, Rachel’s observation was that GroupMap increased participation levels. This time pointing to the tool’s effectiveness in hybrid settings.

Creating a safe space

Rachel is a fan of the levels of anonymity the tool can offer as it tends to give people the courage to offer their input with greater ease; even among individuals who might have been hesitant to speak up in a traditional setting. 

She shared an example of the importance of anonymity with a mindset mapping warm up exercise. Participants were invited to nominate which one of four mindsets they most identified at that point in time. They were to choose from – 

  • An Innovator, that is they were ready to think creatively and think outside the box.

  • A Relater, that is they were ready to connect with others and build relationships.

  • A Challenger, that is, they were prepared to take on a challenge and push the group to achieve.

  • An Observer  meant they were in the mood to watch and analyse from the sideline.

The group consisted of two Innovators, one Relater, three Challengers and the rest (the majority of the group) identified as Observers. The anonymous nature of their input allowed participants to feel safe enough to honestly share their current mind-set.

Knowing she had so many Observers in the room meant Rachel could tailor her facilitation methods to better connect with the group.

Final thoughts

“GroupMap has made my online and hybrid sessions flow smoothly.  It is an intuitive platform that takes little to no training for my participants.  People in my facilitated meetings have commented that it is the best platform they have used. So not only do my clients get great information from the meeting, I have a tool that makes my process successful.” 

Thanks to our contributor, Rachel Gooen, Facilitator, Trainer and Coach. Through her consultancy, Rachel connects people and organizations with their purpose.

Have more questions or would like a demo?

NFP Develops a Strategic Roadmap through Collaboration in Online Meetings


Non-profit, Strategies for Children needed to collaborate with their community to deliver on their ambitious strategic plan. To do so, they included GroupMap in their tool kit to help them build their roadmap toward an integrated and accessible system of support.

Titus DosRemedios and Marisa Fear share how they used GroupMap and the change it helped to deliver.

Who we are

Strategies for Children (SFC) is a small nonprofit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). It works to ensure that Massachusetts invests the resources needed for all children, from birth to age five, to access high-quality early education programs that prepare them for success in school and life.  

We focus on state policy, and work with coalitions, grassroots advocates, state agency partners, researchers, and philanthropy to achieve systemic change.

We needed to build a roadmap

In our four-year strategic plan adopted in 2021, we were charged with taking our advocacy work to the next level. By convening all early childhood partners in our state to create a unified agenda for early childhood, that would result in systemic change for more positive outcomes for young children, families, communities, and early childhood professionals. 

To achieve this, we launched the Early Childhood Agenda in October 2022. 

The COVID-19 pandemic shone an important light on the early childhood ecosystem in Massachusetts and created opportunities for systemic change. Early childhood issues are interdependent and can’t be developed effectively in silos.

The Early Childhood Agenda was conceived as a series of convenings, taking a whole-child approach, working across sectors for better policy development and to identify effective solutions that may not be visible from one sector’s viewpoint. 

Together, we would build a roadmap – an Early Childhood Agenda to ensure that Massachusetts has an integrated and accessible system of support for children from prenatal through age eight and their families.

Why we chose GroupMap

The Early Childhood Agenda convenings were virtual – held on Zoom over six meetings, with working groups engaged in content creation during and between meetings. 

There were more than 150 active participants, and a larger community of 400 interested partners.

Our team realized very early on that we would need new tools to effectively communicate, collaborate, and prioritize ideas. 

We chose BaseCamp for a virtual home-base of operations, including archived meeting videos and discussion threads. 

We then chose GroupMap as the primary tool and platform for our Agenda content creation. We had experimented with Google docs and sheets, Jamboard, and other tools for allowing multiple participants to generate content during Zoom meetings. We liked GroupMap’s features, layout, and settings, and decided to try GroupMap for this project. 

We hosted 100 attendees at our first Early Childhood Agenda convening on Zoom. We used GroupMap to review and edit Vision, Principles, Values, House Rules, and Guidelines (see below)


Our audience of participants responded well to GroupMap, so we felt comfortable using it again at subsequent meetings. 

For the second and third meetings we broke into five themed working groups, and each developed a GroupMap of the top challenges in our field. Our staff pre-populated the GroupMaps with initial examples, then all attendee participants joined the GroupMap to type in their own ideas. 

Brainstorming was very successful, and led to grouping, reviewing, editing, then voting. This took place over subsequent meetings and in-between meetings, prompted by emails and BaseCamp instructions.


In the final meeting, we went into working groups again, to discuss solutions. Our team pre-populated these GroupMaps with solutions that corresponded to the top vote-getting challenges from the previous GroupMap. They also pre-populated a few ideas for “lead advocates / state partners” in the bottom row. Then in the meeting, participants added their own ideas. 

As you can see from the examples above, we enjoyed all aspects of GroupMap, especially brainstorming and voting.

GroupMap as a meeting facilitation tool

We wanted our participants to feel heard, valued, empowered, and that they are making active contributions to the discussion and the overall process. This is much harder in traditional meeting settings where only a few people get to speak. 

With GroupMap, everyone can make their contribution simultaneously, and even offline after the meeting ends.

People who join the process late can catch up, and we have an archive for future reference. 

GroupMap allowed us to meaningfully engage with a much larger audience than we ever had in previous convenings.

The Early Childhood Agenda project required substantial community brainstorm, review, debate, voting, and consensus. 

GroupMap enabled us to effectively meet our goals at each step of the process. We had a quick 3-month project timeline: October – December, 2022. GroupMap allowed us to accomplish all our goals and reduced the amount of staff time it would have taken to facilitate this process using other methods.

Our team at Strategies for Children achieved the impossible – building a cohesive community of early childhood advocates online using Zoom, BaseCamp, and of course GroupMap.

We generated far more (and far better!) content from our partners using GroupMap than we would have with traditional discussion or other online tools. 

Thank you GroupMap team for creating this innovative product. Nonprofit organizations, advocacy coalitions, and other community conveners will find GroupMap an essential tool in their toolkit for achieving social change. 

Thanks to our writers – 

Titus DosRemedios, Deputy Director at Strategies for Children. Titus manages the internal team, contractors, and interns, as well as supports fundraising, policy and advocacy, and external partnerships. 

Marisa Fear, Associate Director of Research and Policy at Strategies for Children. Marisa is the project manager for the Early Childhood Agenda, and leads early childhood policy, research, and data analytics.

Have more questions or would like a demo?

Transitioning to Native AWS Services, December 2022.


Current State

As you may be aware, GroupMap is currently hosted on the Salesforce Heroku Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which in turn is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) in Amazon’s Northern Virginia (us-east-1) and Frankfurt (eu-central-1) data-centres.  

While the Heroku platform has served us well over the last few years, GroupMap has reached a point where we’ve outgrown it and we are looking to set ourselves up for future growth and to improve our product services and security. 

Migrating to AWS Native Services

We are planning to transition off Heroku to AWS-equivalent native service platforms (within the same data centres) in late December 2022. This migration will be transparent to you, although we hope you notice the improved performance and availability. As part of this migration:
  • Heroku Server Dynos will be replaced with AWS ECS Fargate services
  • Heroku Postgres will be migrated to AWS RDS Aurora Postgres clusters
  • Heroku Redis will be migrated to AWS Elasticache clusters
To further reduce our data footprint we’ll be replacing a number of current third-party processors with their AWS equivalents.
  • Sqreen (DataDog Inc.) Web Application Firewall will be replaced with AWS Web Application Firewall
  • ImgIX (Zebrafish Labs Inc.) Asset resizing and CDN will be replaced with AWS S3 + AWS CloudFront


Over the last two months we’ve been shaking and performance testing the new AWS environments in parallel to maintaining our existing Heroku environments. 

We’d like to thank our friends at Mechanical Rock Inc and Amazon Web Services for their assistance in the planning and implementation of this migration!

Migration process

Migration will be completed outside of business hours over a weekend, and will involve approximately 2 hours of planned downtime as data is transferred. Advance notice of this scheduled outage will be sent to account owners 48 hours prior to commencement.


If you have any questions – please let us know at 

Have more questions or would like a demo?

The SMARTEN Project: Building Digital Readiness for European Water-Related Higher Education


The SMARTEN Project is an exercise in preparedness in the truest sense of the word. Its overall goal is to build the digital readiness of water-related European higher education and lifelong learning. 

The outputs of the project aren’t the only elements designed with preparedness in view. Its delivery was crafted with agility in mind. The project has been shaped to achieve its objectives while building the responsiveness, adaptability and flexibility of educational activities against external disruptors such as the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s fair to say that SMARTEN walks the preparedness talk.

SMARTEN is a creative acronym for an equally creative project that was publicly launched on 18  March 2021 during Water Knowledge Europe. It stands for Serious gaMes for digitAl Readiness of waTer EducatioN. It focuses on innovative practices based on serious games in education, as it explores the subject of water. The project aligns with the European goals on environment and climate. 

In order to deliver its goal, the project strives to support and enhance digital transitions in the fast-evolving education and water resource sectors. This is done to better adapt to pandemic and post-pandemic working conditions. 

Those benefiting from SMARTEN represent quite a range of people. From students of water-related programs, and young water professionals, through to water educators in academia and industry, water society and the European community at large.

One of the intellectual outputs of SMARTEN is the Augmented Collaboration Toolkit. Naomi Timmer, the Director of H2O People, led its design. 

“GroupMap was included in the Toolkit as it supports the experience of both the facilitator and the participant,” offered Naomi. 

“From the facilitator’s perspective, which is where I am most involved, the interface is simple and user friendly. This makes it accessible and easy to navigate.”

“The available templates are versatile and easy to customize. They are handy and can help to plan workshops as well as engage participants. The reporting process is performed automatically and communicates all phases of the workshop.”

“Using GroupMap is a real-time process that starts from an individual brainstorming to a group discussion to a final collective decision. This pathway promotes the bottom-up approach for decision making that is quite relevant to the pressing environmental and climate issues.” 

From a user’s perspective, GroupMap leverages the participants’ voices and uses them as a base to move forward with the discussion to reach a final vision or decision. It is fun and interesting to see the different views converge or diverge in the grouping phase. GroupMap is a dynamic and interactive environment that maintains the participant’s attention.”

“All of these features encouraged us to incorporate GroupMap in the SMARTEN Augmented Collaboration Toolkit.”

In June 2021 Naomi led the online event Human Capital: Collaboration in Digital Space. The digital workshop showcased the range of collaborative tools included in the toolkit including GroupMap which was used in support of an exploration of the transformations needed in the water sector.


“The workshop was rich in interactive features,’ shared Naomi. “It leveraged digital collaboration for a more engaging, seamless experience to match live events.” 

“It promoted the SMARTEN Augmented Collaboration Toolkit. Different digital tools were used to discuss topics related to online facilitation: Water-Food-Energy Nexus, and Deep Democracy.” 

“GroupMap was used as a tool to facilitate collaborative brainstorming on leadership in the water sector which revealed the different needs and perspectives on this concept.”


Written with the kind support of Naomi Timmer – H2O People

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Supporting ComTeam Group Foster Success Through Change

how-groupmap-supports the-comteamgroup-foster-success-through-change-image

When it comes to online collaboration, having a tool that caters to the needs of both participants and facilitators can be a challenge. Add in higher level requirements such as security, privacy and reliability, finding the right tool can be even harder. ComTeam needed to run virtual strategy workshops and to facilitate online meetings with their team. So they started a search to find a tool that was structured, easy to use and secure. They found GroupMap.

It was a recommendation from a colleague that convinced the ComTeam Group’s Philipp Zeikat to try GroupMap.

As a user of the online collaboration tool, Philipp’s colleague had firsthand experience of the benefits GroupMap offered. They had seen how little time was needed during a workshop for participants to familiarize themselves with the tool. They had also accessed and used the existing template library, and noted GroupMap’s templates offered a near-perfect match with the topics they were facilitating for clients.

With that in mind, Philipp signed up for a free trial to explore what more the tool had to offer. The rest, as they say, is history.

Neither Philipp nor ComTeam are strangers to the facilitation space. Far from it!  ComTeam Group is a consulting and training company with subsidiaries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Great Britain. They offer an impressive range of tailor made services designed to deliver effective change at both the corporate and personal levels. With its origins in facilitation and personal development, ComTeam are experts in leadership, change management, and cultural development. Their coaching and facilitation services include communication, decision-making processes, change projects, conflict resolution, leadership development and personal growth. They cater to a wide range of clients from public organizations through to leading medium-sized and large commercial enterprises.

Before GroupMap

Prior to their adoption of GroupMap, ComTeam had identified opportunities for change with regard to their virtual sessions.

“For notetaking and brainstorming during online-workshops we were using shared documents, mostly based on the Office-365 suite,” offered Philipp. “So we wanted a tool that would ensure a transparent and up-to-date distribution of information during, and after the workshops. We also wanted to avoid the linear and versioned distribution of documents that can happen with email.”

Another requirement was an easy and cohesive way of creating separate workspaces for recurring events.

“The most important factor,” noted Philipp. “was the tool’s usability for both creators and clients. We didn’t want to have to spend a lot of time training participants on the ins and outs of the tool. We also wanted our creators to have a well-structured pool of resources they could use along with access control.”

GroupMap delivered on all of these requirements. Starting with virtual sessions and growing to include hybrid contexts, it’s the online brainstorming and collaboration tool ComTeam uses regularly to support client consultations and training, as well as internal strategy and brainstorming sessions.


A highly intuitive tool

Compared to other online collaborative tools, Philipp notes that GroupMap offers a highly intuitive user interface. This is great news for facilitators who, with only seconds of explaining, are able to induct their clients as to how to use the tool. This means the focus of the session remains on the topic at hand.

Indeed, ComTeam’s facilitators adapted quickly to GroupMap. Used predominantly to support clients’ brainstorming sessions, when it came to using other features (such as grouping and voting) learning how to do so was quick and easy.

Delivering workshop value

ComTeam’s online client workshops address a variety of issues. What they have in common is they all require a tool that supports the creation of solutions to complex problems.

ComTeam curates a workspace of templates designed to foster high-level conversations around strategy. Using those templates, facilitators guide clients through brainstorming and small group collaborative sessions to explore constructive approaches to individual cases.

GroupMap is also used to support the delivery of ComTeam’s internal strategy meetings. DIfferent features such as color coding and voting features  are used to support the different aims of the meeting.

Delivering client value

Both ComTeam and their clients have benefited from GroupMap’s reporting feature.

“This is especially useful,” said Philipp. “It gives our clients a record of exactly what they agreed on; what they said they would do, without us needing to compile an extra document. The proceedings of the workshop are generated by the workshop!”

Written with the kind collaboration of Philipp Zeikat, Project Manager ComTeam.

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Human Centred Stakeholder Workshops Excel Online with The Right Collaboration Tool

Derby Silk Mill is widely regarded as the site of the world’s first modern factory.

Hannah Fox is the Director of Projects and Programmes for Derby Museums, an organization that manages 3 public museums of art, history and natural history located in Derby, United Kingdom: The Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House, and their latest project, the Museum of Making located at Derby Silk Mill, an £18 Million development due to open in Spring 2021!

As an organization, Derby Museums uses human-centred design (design thinking) and co-production approaches to develop their projects, programmes and activities with their communities.

To learn more about this approach you can read DERBY MUSEUMS Human-Centred Design Handbook.

They also deliver online training for other cultural organizations that are interested in using human centred design and co-production approaches.

Facilitating Collaboration Online

Collaboration is at the heart of Derby Museums’ projects. They work together internally as well as with external parties and use design-thinking tools to capture and prioritise the desires and needs of their communities and stakeholders.

Before the pandemic, most of Derby Museums’ development sessions and workshops took place face to face and were facilitated through flip charts and post-it-notes… lots of post-it-notes!

As many companies have in recent times, Hannah needed to take Derby Museums’ activities into the digital space and required a platform where they could facilitate their sessions online. The need to transition to a new modality for what had been outcomes driven by human contact meant that processes had to be re-engineered and meeting tools used to ensure that the values, outcomes and methodologies of Derby could be maintained, if not enhanced.

Finding the Right Collaboration Tool for Remote Teams

It was important for Hannah to find a platform that could offer a choice of tools for collaborative human-centred design brainstorming and thinking. She also needed the collaboration tool to be intuitive, flexible and able to provide a great experience for both the facilitator and participants, with the massive price tags and steep learning curve.

Before finding GroupMap she had tried other collaboration tools, but found they were either too restrictive, with limited ways to engage, or too open, which led to participants interrupting each other’s contributions and as a result the experience became messy and the session less effective.

I’ve been looking for a great digital platform that allows us to do similar things online as we do in person – brainstorming, empathy mapping, journey mapping etc. and have tried several – Miro, Mural, Google Jamboard etc. and I think GroupMap is by far the best user experience‘. – Hannah Fox

Workshop Facilitation Tools and Techniques

Derby Museums have been using GroupMap to support them in their Museum of Making project. 

They have conducted a wide range of collaborative development sessions with staff, volunteers, and stakeholders in groups of between 10 to 50 people. These sessions were conducted through a range of virtual meetings and workshops and a range of activities and techniques were supported.

These included:

  • General Brainstorming
  • Empathy Mapping
  • Value Proposition
  • Stakeholder Mapping
  • Programme Design
  • Project Development
  • Teaching
Empathy Map with GroupMap

Hannah's GroupMap Experience

GroupMap provided an invaluable collaborative tool that allowed facilitators to plan and deliver sessions effectively, enabling the journey mapping of sessions ahead of time and creating ways to run a workshop and gather insights that seamlessly enabled collaborative thinking. The participant experience was enjoyable, interesting and fun!‘ – Hannah Fox

Hannah was impressed by the abundance of templates GroupMap provides to help get you started, noting that they were very relevant and hugely useful. 

Hannah also reflected that the ability for the group to brainstorm and generate lots of ideas quickly in GroupMap had been particularly useful. 

As a facilitator, being able to see who is contributing enabled her to offer prompts to support the quieter contributors to increase overall engagement and participation.

She received great feedback from the participants of her development sessions with the most common compliments being how intuitive and easy it was to use the platform.

Really enjoyed the session you ran using GroupMap – it was a fantastic way to collaborate!’ – Meeting participant

Value Proposition with GroupMap

GroupMap: Supporting Organizational Outcomes

For Derby Museums, GroupMap has been a huge success, helping them achieve their organizational outcomes of:

  • Collaborative planning
  • Human-centred design and co-production activities
  • Sector teaching opportunities

At last, a platform that supports the way we think and gives us a fantastic digital space to develop ideas and collaborate with others! It helped us take our normal project planning and in person activities online during the pandemic, but will continue to be a hugely useful addition to our resources once a little bit of normality returns.’- Hannah Fox

Derby Museums will be continuing to use GroupMap for planning and developing their internal projects, as well as externally to engage with partners and communities in developing ideas, gathering data and for delivering workshops and activities. These partners include corporations like Rolls-Royce, as well as museum organisations internationally.

Want to try GroupMap as an online brainstorm tool? 

Schedule a demo with a GroupMap team member at a day and time that suits you best or have a go of our easy to use, supported online brainstorm tool for FREE for 14 days today. 

How the Business Model Canvas and Pestle Analysis Helped Businesses Pivot during COVID-19

Morehouse College Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC) is a unit of Morehouse College, a historically Black, private liberal arts institution for men located in Atlanta, Georgia. Its focus is to educate men who are intellectually, socially and morally equipped to meet the challenges, and opportunities of their professions and communities. Noted Alumni include 16th U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and Academy Award winning filmmaker and director Spike Lee.

The MIEC is a global model for higher education and industry collaboration that connects education with student leadership development, and community-focused resources and support. MIEC runs a program called the Accelerating Growth Activator’s Program (AGAP). This program consists of business owners participating in bi-weekly sessions focused on Leadership Development, Marketing, Sales, Finance, People Management, and Securing Capital.

It is a 24-week program designed to be the catalyst to support businesses in securing funding that ignites economic growth by exercising strategic agility, procuring new customers, expanding market share, and increasing jobs.

Business Owners receive 1:1 coaching by Subject Matter Experts and participate in Executive Round Table discussions.

We asked the Program leaders Danita Harris to share insights into how they used GroupMap to help them achieve their goals in this amazing entrepreneurial program and how they helped their students build entrepreneurial capacity and knowledge. This is what they had to share.

AGAP Launch Event

Choosing an online brainstorming tool for student engagement

“We needed a collaborative brainstorming tool that allows our business owners to capture information throughout each of the sessions. These sessions were aimed to help them develop their strategic plan, capabilities statement, sales pitch, and growth plans. We selected GroupMap as a collaborative online brainstorming and meeting tool to support the Accelerating Growth Activator’s Program (AGAP). This would allow our coaches and subject matter experts to guide and facilitate sessions with each business owner, offer an organized way to collect their ideas and inspirations and help them refine their business models”.

“GroupMap offered over 80 easy to use customisable templates and the ability to set up a workspace for each of our businesses. Each business leveraged their workspace to collaborate with other business owners in the program and/or share with their respective teams. We primarily used two templates to support our needs: PESTLE Analysis and Business Model Canvas to support the goals and outcomes of the program”.

PESTLE Analysis

Business Owners leveraged the Pestle Analysis to document Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors that impacted their business and industry. This interactive template was most beneficial in capturing the impact of COVID-19 on the businesses who found the online tool to be easy to use. They also used the reporting function to download and share the map. This environmental scan and understanding of the changing business landscape served as the foundation for developing their business model canvas and overall strategy.

Below is an example of a business owner’s Pestle Analysis.

PESTLE Analysis

By completing the PESTLE analysis, each of the business owners had a clearer understanding of the business environment and could assess how each of these factors could directly or indirectly affect their business which would inform the next stage of completing their business model canvas.

Business Model Canvas (aka Strategic Canvas)

The second template business owners leveraged was the Business Model Canvas. To meet our needs, we renamed the Business Model Canvas to the Strategic Canvas as it served as an agile approach for strategic planning. The Strategic Canvas consisted of nine boxes that captured the business’:
  • Vision Statement/Value Proposition
  • Pestle Trends
  • Customers
  • Assets & Partners
  • Key Activities
  • Key Resources
  • Marketing & Engagement Strategy
  • Cost to Launch
  • Expected Revenue

The Strategic Canvas is only a few pages compared to an overloaded Strategic Plan that usually ends up on a bookshelf and rarely executed. Having the ability to use the Strategic Canvas to leverage a more agile approach to strategic planning was most beneficial to the canvas. 

Also, because of the online functionality, updates can easily be made to the Canvas, and it becomes a LIVING document. It is a succinct, precise way to capture information needed to create a Capabilities Statement, Sales Pitch, Growth Plans, and many other uses. It can easily be shared with potential investors, employees, potential partners, and shareholders versus the traditional business plan.

Feedback from business owners included

  1. Online centralized collaborative platform
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Invaluable tool to narrow down to a core actionable idea(s).

It is recommended that the novice user set aside time to explore the many features GroupMap has to offer. Businesses can directly contact GroupMap to get answers, learn more about plans and even give suggestions for future templates.

GroupMap and MIEC: Bridging the Gap in Facilitating collaboration online


While the sleek and sophisticated designs can seem somewhat intimidating at first glance, we found GroupMap to be extremely user friendly. The templates were already created, and Business owners were able to successfully leverage GroupMap and effectively use the Pestle Analysis and Strategic Canvas.

GroupMap’s customizable and user-friendly templates are directly in line with MIEC’s need to have an online

Collaboration tool for business owners, and are great for remote or distributed teams.

Have more questions or would like a demo?

Remote Brainstorming and Collaboration Tool Helps to Enrich Engagement and Learning


With the aim of improving the way their community discusses complex issues in order to arrive at better decisions, the Colorado State University Centre for Public Deliberation is an impartial resource for the local northern Colorado community, that is able to assist local government, schools, and community organizations in problem-solving key issues.

Core to the CPD’s process is working with partners to invite those affected by the issue ‘into the room’ where students trained in small group facilitation guide participants through sometimes challenging conversations.

So, what happens when no one is leaving their own home let alone stepping foot into ‘the room’?

As a result of the pandemic, like many other organizations, the CPD needed to quickly pivot and take those conversations online without eroding their effectiveness.  

Professor Martin Carcasson, the Director of the CPD and a Communication Studies academic, shared with us how he and his team used GroupMap to embrace the challenges they faced and realized the opportunities offered by online facilitation with GroupMap.

Since 2006 the CPD has served its community through its efforts to enhance local democracy. They work with their city and county governments, school districts, and community organizations to increase the capacity needed to address difficult shared problems, and elevate the overall quality of conversation and engagement regarding those issues.

It has done so by creating open spaces for citizens to come together equipped with information and skilled facilitators to explore important issues relating to community problem solving and public decision making.

The CPD trains Colorado State University undergraduate students as facilitators; their team of 30 can turn an audience of around 100 participants into small groups, thereby paving the way for vastly different conversations to take place and avoiding the problematic experience of participants speaking one at a time at a microphone and simply talking past each other.

Prior to the COVID pandemic, the majority of the CPD’s small group discussions happened in person.

“Covid obviously forced us to quickly adapt and move online,” said Professor Carcasson “though, as a silver lining, it fast forwarded everyone’s comfort with online meetings, so it actually opened up a lot of opportunities for us”.

“As we looked into various options of software to use to assist with our processes once we moved online, we learned about GroupMap, and it seemed the best fit to what we needed.”

“I came across GroupMap in two ways at about the same time. I was helping a local facilitator, Chris Hutchinson of the Trebuchet Group, with a project, and he used GroupMap. I also had a graduate student with the CPD do a project last semester exploring various online platforms for synchronous engagement which led to the NCDD Online Engagement Showcase. GroupMap was one of the platforms that participated in that event.”

Easier group discussions that deliver deeper engagement

In addition to making the online transition easier, GroupMap helped address other challenges associated with group engagement.

“The problem with small groups, however, is you are limited in the natural diversity (demographic and viewpoint) of the group, and participants are always curious what is going on with the rest of the participants.”

Prior to their use of GroupMap, the CPD used an audience response system during in person events whereby participants submitted responses to questions using a small handset. To connect the large group and small group processes, multiple choice questions were posed that the whole group could answer and then respond to in the small group. However, this approach was limited to the multiple choice format.

The CPD then switched to an online service that used participants’ smart phones, which meant participants could respond to open ended questions. Although this allowed the CPD to move beyond a multiple-choice structure, the response flow remained rigidly one-way.


Meaningful Online Conversations

“As we moved online, we saw GroupMap as a much more flexible and interactive version of this. It allows us to not only get input from the large group, but people can also comment on each other’s ideas, as well as voting and prioritizing those ideas”.

Professor Carcasson’s work aims to allow people to express their opinions, then interact with each other’s ideas and work to elevate those that are stronger. He notes that while GroupMap facilitates both of these endeavors, he perceives the second is crucial.

With this in mind, Professor Carcasson aligns his group and map management to bring the greatest value to his discussions.

“We have successfully used GroupMap with Zoom breakouts to have small group discussions with multiple groups on the same map.”

“We like small discussion groups of around six to eight, but GroupMap groups of around 40, so maybe five to six small groups per map. We have student facilitators in each group helping explain things and spark discussion, while a separate facilitator watches the map. We have run some processes with 120 people, so we had numerous small groups but four separate maps. It enabled us to collect wonderful ideas and get have people prioritize and engage.”

“One map template I’ve created and used a lot is a Polarity Map, based on the work by Barry Johnson. GroupMap has been very helpful for me to help people create polarity maps and for me to have a place to brainstorm and refine my maps.”

“GroupMap helped participants see more ideas from the entire room – not just those generated in their small group – while also likely working better for introverts that prefer to write than speak. I think that is a critical aspect of GroupMap, since most of our processes are inherently biased toward extroverts that like to think out loud and can dominate processes. GroupMap provides some nice balance to that situation.”

Overall, GroupMap has had a positive impact on the work of Professor Carcasson and his team.

Enriching learning with asynchronous collaborations

Professor Carcasson has continued to innovate with GroupMap.

“In terms of my teaching, GroupMap has been very useful to integrate synchronous and asynchronous work. I like to have my students engage the readings between classes and start the conversation online, so then our in-class discussions can be much richer. Doing that well has always been a challenge, and GroupMap has provided new strategies that have worked very well so far.”

“One other thing we’ve done that I really liked that GroupMap facilitated was engaging alumni of our program (or, alternatively, allowing people not at the initial meeting to react to and contribute to an exercise). We have a facilitation training exercise in which students react to a variety of problematic statements and design a response to reframe them. We used GroupMap to collect the initial ideas and have people respond or talk through them. I was also able to send the link to our alumni through social media, which allowed them all to engage.”

The CPD has found the response to GroupMap has been very positive.

“The fact that people can publicly see the information and can be sent a view link afterwards to engage it is also important to transparency.”

“Students have enjoyed GroupMap because it is a significant improvement upon writing a paragraph response on the reading at the course website. I use a single map to ask questions like –

  • What is something that you want to talk about more?
  • What is something you disagree with or want to push back on or didn’t make sense?
  • What is something that gave you an Aha moment during the reading?
  • What questions do you have?

Students populate the four questions between classes, and the night before, I ask them to all rank which responses they most want to discuss in class. I use that ranking to finalize the class discussion and process.”

GM Written with the kind collaboration of Professor Martin Carcasson Director of the CPD.

Case Study: Hackathon Brainstorming and Team Judging


GroupMap was used as the collaborative idea management tool for teams to create new marketing ideas using the lean model canvas and as an online competition judging software so that judges could score the team pitches in real-time. The Curtin University Marketing Hackathon was a 2-day event held at Technology Park. High school students, current undergraduates, and professional marketing gurus came together to brainstorm innovative new ideas to improve student attraction and retention.
[mk_image src=”” image_width=”800″ image_height=”350″ crop=”true” svg=”false” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”center” margin_bottom=”10″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Kicking off was a spread of ideas from student festivals through to a make your own “course”, teams then formed comprised of a minimal of 3 skill sets along with the founders.

Hustlers (someone who has professional industry experience) hipsters (the creative types able to expand upon ideas and generate content) and hackers( the programmer and/or website-maker of the clan), combined with an honorary high school student create a dream team of mixed superpowers (special skills and talents).[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557985490678{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]But how do you coordinate the diverse views and conflicting views to create a more consensus approach? With time ticking, it was important that each and every person in the team was focused in the same direction.

Using the Lean Model Canvas as the foundation – with a small tweak customized to suit – teams rapidly planned out their plan of attack, consolidating their idea.

Teams could plan their approach, share this with their mentors and test which assumptions they needed to most validate.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][vc_column_text]

“Using the lean canvas on GroupMap was a really handy tool that allowed our group to systemize our strategy. It helped us find our feet using the template as a guide as it was really easy to go astray,” said Sean Eamer – current student and Hackathon participant. “We had to deconstruct our grandiose business idea into smaller pieces and proved to be a good way to go through and re-evaluate things.”

[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557985591382{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]The next 48 hours was a fun, intensive and gruelling event, with pivoting of ideas, validation with key customers and reaching out to people online, face to face and in classrooms.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557985581188{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Finally, it was time for teams to pitches. Judges representing internal departments, agency partners and student representatives provided feedback and scores against criteria, in real time, using GroupMap as a contest judging software.[/vc_column_text][vc_row padding=”0″][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding=”0″][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557985646858{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]We obviously can’t share what the winning ideas were, but congratulations to the winning teams from both the judges and from the People’s vote. We wish you a truck load of success as you move to the next phase of bringing these initiatives to life.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding=”0″][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” align=”center” crop=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding=”0″][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1557985716737{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]So why run a Hackathon and how do you smash out amazing outputs over 2 days? Here’s what some of the judges had to say about the event. Read the full story here.

“We use startup methodology and processes to rapidly test some ideas on our customers, generate break-through thinking…. We were able to accelerate the design and development of new ideas over two days to such a degree that we had multiple test websites built, channel plans developed and initiatives practically ready to launch.”
Ty Hayes (Chief Marketing Officer)

“The diversity and quality of ideas generated demonstrated how a traditional marketing problem can be resolved quickly and effectively across a broad range of marketing platforms using innovative thought processes.”
John Discoll (CEO at Marketforce)

“With the university sector increasingly targeted towards online learning environments it is vital we maximise our use of emerging technologies and processes to become a recognised international leader in research and education.”
Valerie Raubenheimer  (VP Corporate Relations)


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Feeling inspired to run your own Hackathon?

We thought we would share a few learnings and tips.

1. Support from the top

It’s great to have energy on the day. In fact, the participants bring this with them. But the message from decision-makers and leaders is about supporting both the wins and fails of the day and nearly shouting out from rooftops about why they are supporting the event. The last thing you want is a room full of personal mental blocks full of people worrying about what they need to get done by as part of their day to day job.

2.  Space matters

Over cater just by a little, don’t skimp on the coffee, keep the brain health and don’t forget the right levels of cush for the toosh. Whether it’s bean bags, sound bytes or a good dose of fresh air, make sure both the devices and participants are juiced up and ready for action.

3.  Structure for synergy

Using collaborative software to allow for the pollination of ideas. Set the ground rules but don’t be an administrative nazi. Give people space to think but capture things quickly and encourage quick but effective decision making so that they can get on with validating the idea. Use team voting to get past blocks. Coach mentors to be add ons. They should offer direction, not just critique. Finally set a few milestones to keep teams on track.

4. Start with the end in mind

Okay, so this is a concept espoused by Steven Covey, but it applies even in the world of Hackathons. With limited time frames, teams need to focus on the key action points that will drive the greatest value and aim for a particular outcome by the end of the session. The judging criteria will drive behaviour and so it makes sense to create the context about how teams will be judged on their final outputs. Making sure your criteria meets the goals of the event. Think of this way…imagine the perfect demo and then work backwards from there.

5. Give feedback to teams and plenty of it

Whether or not your judges scribble things on little bits of paper or a worksheet, or use a real-time judging software, the key thing is to get that feedback to the actual teams. They have worked hard, and if there’s no feedback, there’s no learning. And isn’t that the whole point? Of course, we would recommend you open it up to the audience to give feedback to teams.  The worse teams have the most to improve so every piece of feedback matters.
Take a peek at what happened.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
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Want to use online brainstorming or competition judging software at your event? Get in touch with us.


Case Study: Check Out These Facilitation Techniques by Award Winning Facilitator

Andrew Huffer runs facilitation, community engagement, team development, and training consultancy that supports government, business, and community organisations to do their best work.

Group Map Case Study – Andrew Huffer

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Who is Andrew Huffer?

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″] Andrew Huffer runs facilitation, community engagement, team development, and training consultancy that supports government, business, and community organisations to do their best work. His work takes him from Broome to Launceston; Perth to Port Moresby, Albany to Auckland. Wherever you are, he and his team can be on your patch, working with you to get the results you need, when you need them most. Andrew Huffer is the proud recipient of the 2015 Australian IAF Global Facilitation Impact Award.
1. What was the event, meeting or objective you were using GroupMap to resolve?
The Australian Dairy Leaders Alumni Forum

2. What were the details of the event in terms of size, name, and location? Is there a link we can refer to?
A national gathering of over 50 leaders from across the Australian dairy industry, held in Melbourne in December 2015. The summit enabled participants to identify how they would invest in their community, their industry, and importantly – themselves. Involved facilitation of interactive, speaker, panel, and workshop sessions and a program debrief with the planning team.

3. What was the main challenge you wanted to resolve?
Sharing multiple views and solutions across a range of topics with over 50 participants in less than 90 minutes.

4. In what way/s did you use GroupMap?
Participants chose one of four topics to work on 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.

5. What was the response from the audience?
Very positive, especially in the reporting back session.

6. What outcomes/output did you achieve from using GroupMap?
GroupMap allowed more time for discussion of the topic as the reporting back time was much more streamlined. The information recorded was exported straight into the workshop report that the client had delivered to them within 24 hours.

7. Is there anything else you want to say to people considering using GroupMap for themselves?
If you’re using GroupMap, 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.[vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″] Read Andrew Huffer’s full blog about GroupMap Here!

It’s a great alternative to the omnipresent flipchart paper that can often bring groans of ‘you’re making us work’ when they’re rolled out in a workshop.