Transitioning to Native AWS Services, December 2022.

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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

Preparation

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.

Questions

If you have any questions – please let us know at info@groupmap.com 

Have more questions or would like a demo?

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

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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.

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“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.”

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Written with the kind support of Naomi Timmer – H2O People

Have more questions or would like a demo?

Supporting ComTeam Group Foster Success Through Change

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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.

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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.

Have more questions or would like a demo?

Human Centred Stakeholder Workshops Excel Online with The Right Collaboration Tool – Derby Museums

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.

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

Professor-Martin-Carcasson

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.

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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

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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.

pitch1

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).

at the wall

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.

team-planning
GroupMap lean canvas

“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.”

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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.

focussed

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.

GroupMap Scoring template
GroupMap judging

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.

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winning team 1

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.

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

Who is Andrew Huffer?

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.
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.

ANDREW HUFFER | Andrew Huffer and Associates

Case study – Teaching and Learning Forum – Examples of GroupMap in the Classroom #Edtech

How GroupMap is being used in Classrooms to facilitate student learning.


The following are examples of how educators are effectively engaging their students in group discussion, collaborative learning, and speeding up the feedback process for their students. These ideas were presented at the WAND teaching and learning conference held at Curtin University and offer some wonderful examples of how teachers can employ innovative practices in delivering their curriculum.


Facilitating online discussions with pre-service teachers


Paul from the School of Education presented on how he used Edward De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” format to brainstorm inclusive practices for students. The learning outcome was for students to explore the idea of having a student from a different country joining a classroom. Rather than one specific country, however, he asked participants to imagine that in the future, Aliens had been discovered from Mars and that a Martian was joining the classroom. Using the different perspectives of Edward De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats”, pre-service teachers could then explore and list a wide range of issues that needed to be considered within the school environment.   Given that this was also an online class, it meant that everyone had the opportunity to participate in the process and perspectives from a wide range of participants could be inputted. Based on the outputs it looks like they had a great session, generating ideas and solutions to cross-cultural bridges. It’s no wonder that Paul received positive feedback from students like “This is the first time in my online course that I actually feel like a student that could contribute. All my courses should be like this.”


What could you try?

  • Using the 6 thinking hats approach so that people are encouraged to think differently about the same situation.
  • Integrating GroupMap into your own LMS (Blackboard was used in this case) to make the experience more seamless.
  • Augmenting your online course with a collaborative online brainstorming tool,

Smarter Team Planning

Bhadra, (Manager-Curtin Library Learning Services) went through the way she and her team had used GroupMap for unit planning. Instead of gathering up all the sticky notes or madly writing down notes during meetings, each person added their ideas and comments to a GroupMap over the course of a month. Many hands make light work, and by the end of the process, the team had plenty of useful information in one, easily accessible place. The best thing about it? Everyone was able to have their say and see what others were talking about (without the hassle of scheduling around a dozen people’s busy lives). Less early morning meetings equal more sleep for everyone.

GroupMap at Teaching and Learning Conference

What could you try?

  • Running your online brainstorming sessions prior to your meeting to allow people more think time.
  • Speeding up your meetings by having people add their thoughts to a key topic beforehand.
  • Capturing thinking as you plan so you have a written record and evidence of the planning process.

Deeper Discussion through a compare and contrast exercise

Naggamal, a Clinical and Professional fellow, entertained us with her use of GroupMap in the more traditional classroom environment. Naggamal used GroupMap to look at the pros and cons of different medical radiation equipment with her students. Students were asked to expand their thinking by branching out from a given set of medical radiation tools. By comparing and contrasting, students can better consolidate their understanding whilst applying critical thinking to the diagnostic methods. With something as technical as this, she said it was great to see students able to explore topics with no one fixed answer. She also has the ability to comment and give feedback to the conversation as it developed.

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What can you try?

  • Provide feedback in real-time to groups as they present ideas.
  • Use GroupMap as a formative assessment tool to evaluate student understanding of key topics.
  • Facilitate a class discussion based on the overall output by the students.

Can we help?

Want some ideas specific to your classroom? We’d love to help. Just drop us an email with what you have in mind and we will be more than happy to help create a wonderful teaching and a learning experience

Case Study: Tuna Blue Uses Innovative Facilitation Tools to Engage Stakeholders

Tuna Blue Facilitation supports groups to make their best decisions together by providing tailored facilitation processes paired with innovative digital technology.

Group Map Case Study – Tuna Blue Facilitation

Who is Tuna Blue?

Tuna Blue Facilitation supports groups to make their best decisions together by providing tailored facilitation processes paired with innovative digital technology. It’s an approach they call Long Haul Facilitation and it’s been refined in 1,300+ workshops with Government, community, and corporate groups in a diverse range of sectors. Always ready for the long haul, Will and Bevan at Tuna Blue have worked across Australia and the Asia Pacific to help groups get the buy-in and engagement they deserve.

1. What was the event, meeting, or objective you were using GroupMap to resolve?

Stakeholder review of the Model of Care for Palliative Care in Western Australia.

2. What were the details of the event in terms of size, name, and location? Is there a link we can refer to?

Over 100 passionate stakeholders (primary and specialist care, allied health, consumers, etc.) at a one-day forum in Perth, WA plus a further 13 regional and remote representatives via Webinar later in the month.

3. What was the main challenge you wanted to resolve?

How to gain really focused and pragmatic input on changes to the Models of Care from a diverse range of expert stakeholders in a way that allowed everyone to have a voice but reached some pretty clear consensus before 4 pm.

4. In what way/s did you use GroupMap?

We created a number of maps for the different workshop sessions throughout the day:

  • A ‘Burning Issues’ session straight upfront, within 3 mins of the forum beginning.
  • A service delivery ‘Gaps and Solutions’ session with the solutions specifically linked to particular gaps through the use of the comment function.
  • A ‘world café’ style session focused on the 5 priority areas for review within the Models of Care, and
  • A shared 10 year Vision session.

5. What was the response from the audience?

We worked in collaborative mode and the participants loved the ability to discuss and enter their views in small groups plus build on other groups’ input. Most of all though, they were astonished that a level of consensus could be reached with 100 people present and that they could leave at 4 pm with a good idea of the overall strategic direction and a clear head. The sponsor closed the forum by saying ‘after running things this way, I don’t think we can ever go back to butchers’ paper and texts, this absolutely changes how engage’.

6. What outcomes/output did you achieve from using GroupMap?

With the wealth of input from the GroupMap sessions and plenaries, we developed a detailed Outcomes Report for the client to guide their review of the Models of Care with the smaller Steering Group. At a deeper level, the stakeholder group was engaged and felt a greater sense of ownership over the changes to the Models of Care that will affect their daily work and their patients.

7. Is there anything else you want to say to people considering using GroupMap for themselves?

We always stress to participants that GroupMap is the technology but the discussion between people is the really catalytic part, where change will occur. So make sure you’ve designed some robust facilitation processes to coincide with GroupMap and you’ll be sweet!

Read more about Tuna Blue’s mission statement here!

“GroupMap has fundamentally changed the way we do business. As a facilitation consultancy that spent the last 20 years on butchers’ paper, GroupMap has met a real need for ourselves and our clients. Plus it’s made us review and refresh the way we facilitate workshops.”

Will Bessen, Tuna Blue Facilitation

Using GroupMap for group facilitation at workshop