GroupMap: A Collaboration Tool Supporting Community Leaders To Continually Succeed

100% Clear on “What’s Next?” 

Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer is a Principal Consultant for Andrew Huffer and Associates – a facilitation, community engagement and team development specialists focused on helping team members to be 100% clear on ‘what’s next?’ 

Andrew’s main role is in program design and development and facilitation. As a recent GroupMap Certified Digital Facilitator and user for over five years, Andrew has used the online brainstorming and collaboration platform with up to 35 clients, to deliver 100+ workshops. 

Recently, Andrew was engaged to facilitate the Community Leaders – Stepping Up and Stepping Out Forum. The workshop aimed to challenge participants to consider how they can step out and step up to support their communities once their leadership programs finished. 

The forum was hosted by the Victorian Regional Community Leadership Program (now known as Regional Leadership Australia).

The intended outcomes of the forum were:

  • Gain exposure to strategic thinking beyond the group’s own localities
  • Use insights to broaden the group’s leadership capacity
  • Expand the organisation’s leadership support base

A Collaboration Tool for Face-to-Face and Digital Facilitation

Over 80 people attended the forum which was held concurrently with participants in Melbourne and Canberra (where a program group was visiting Parliament House). Andrew and his team used a participative approach for the forum to:

  • Share insights from experienced leaders
  • Understand the potential impacts of regional population growth
  • Consider future opportunities for regional leadership

Over his many years and experiences in delivering and facilitating workshops, Andrew found that a face to face setting presented a challenge of laboriously tracking and managing participant input using paper-based tools (flipcharts, templates, post-it notes etc.) 

Documenting reports was time-consuming and arduous.

Meanwhile, in the online space, Andrew discovered there were a few tools available, but they were mostly focused on project management or very ‘clunky’ to use from a design and participant perspective.


GroupMap: Supporting Facilitation 

Five years ago, in 2015, Andrew was introduced to GroupMap by a colleague who was really into tech-based approaches to facilitation. 

Andrew’s overarching goals for an online collaboration tool included:

  • Easy to use and navigate for participants and facilitators alike;
  • Template-based;
  • Suited and enhanced facilitation digitally, face to face or in a hybrid situation. 

GroupMap Collaboration Tool in Action

Collaboration Tool for Better Engagement 

Throughout his years of using GroupMap, Andrew indicated that he has seen many benefits the online collaboration tool brings to achieving outcomes for facilitated workshops, conferences and meetings. 

At the recent Community Leaders – Stepping Up and Stepping Out Forum, Andrew designed the workshop so that participants worked in breakout groups in both locations to undertake a Wave Analysis to identify:

  • New Edges Emerging Trends, and,
  • Established Norms and Dying Practices in regards to regional leadership. 

Participants then identified a ‘big idea’ that they wanted to implement and used the action planning feature of GroupMap to outline how they will make it happen.

“With participants being split across two locations and most using Group Map for the first time, it was important that the workshop process and steps were clear,” said Andrew.

“Being able to outline the objectives for each workshop step within GroupMap templates made this easier. Group Map is also fairly intuitive and simple to follow for most users.” 

“For displaying results and reporting it’s easy [in GroupMap] to zoom in and highlight different elements of each map. The templates are fantastic for design purposes.”


Loved by facilitators and participants

Over the years of using GroupMap, Andrew has noticed that his participants loved how easy it is to use. This often led to participants seeing the potential for using GroupMap to further collaborate more meaningfully with their own teams and community stakeholders.

From his recent Community Leaders – Stepping Up and Stepping Out Forum, Andrew noted how GroupMap also provided an effective tool to enable meaningful participation amongst participants concurrently across multiple locations. 

“My client was very happy that we had a robust tool to enable this [forum] to happen. With the participants doing the documentation, I could focus my efforts on checking in with the groups to help them where needed. 

“Being able to see outputs generated in real time is a great way to check in to see if groups are ‘on track’.”

The forum resulted in several initiatives identified for participants to implement that will benefit regional communities as part of their leadership programs.


Andrew’s GroupMap and digital facilitation tips!

Andrew has also kindly shared his digital facilitation and GroupMap use tips that focus on making sure that any virtual workshops, activities and meetings are even more engaging and effective than ever. 


Digital facilitation tips


Andrew has created a series of videos focused on sharing his online facilitation learnings. In this video titled: “One percenters to keep your participants engaged,” Andrew shares top tips to help keep your participants engaged and productive throughout your online workshop. 

Some of the best practices we love:

  1. Make more effort to keep your events engaging. 
  2. Deliver in shorter blocks of time than you would face to face
  3. Think of ways to incorporate non-screen based activities
  4. Focus on the core elements of (1)  tapping into the diversity of the group (2) helping it
  5. to do its thinking and (3) deliver outcomes


GroupMap: Collaboration tool tips and tricks

In his five years of using GroupMap, Andrew has certainly picked up a lot of learnings and tips and tricks for using our online collaboration platform. 

Here’s some he has shared:

  1. Design your Group Maps to match the purpose and outcomes that you’re trying to achieve (not the other way around). There’s plenty of templates and design options in Group Map to enable this. 
  2. It’s also best to keep processes reasonably simple when you start or for people new to the online space. Ideally it’s great to have scribes or co-facilitators working with breakout groups to help them stay on track where needed.


Try GroupMap for your next engaging meetings, workshops or events!

Thank you Andrew for sharing your GroupMap journey, story and learnings with us. If you’re a facilitator like Andrew or belong in a team who are looking for a more engaging and effective way of brainstorming, try GroupMap today, FREE for 14 days.

Workshop Facilitation Feature Spotlight: Tagging ideas

tagging of ideas in groupmap

Let’s talk about tagging ideas!

Running online meetings with your virtual teams can be made easier each time with facilitation tools that can focus conversations and help people think better together. 

Our feature spotlights give you insights, tips and strategies to help run engaging and effective remote team meetings. 

This post talks about how you can use tagging ideas from your GroupMap brainstorming session so that you can filter and identify key focus areas. Let’s have a look at how this works. 


Tagging ideas – What is it? 

People can now tag ideas and display these on ideas. Filter them to show ideas during a particular stage.

tagging of ideas in groupmap

When and why is tagging ideas is useful?

Being able to tag ideas can help you identify key areas of focus oo categorize data into meaningful themes. 

This sense-making activity can help people better consolidate data as well as identify relationships between 2 or more ideas or just use it to assign meaning as part of your process.

Examples include adding: 

  • Priority (Low, Medium, High), 
  • Interest areas (People, Process, Community) 
  • Function (Technology, Finance, Human Resources)
  • Owner (Management, everyone, team)
  • A Goal or KPI ( Objective 1, Objective 2)
  • or any other theme you like.

How do I create tags?

  1. Go to CUSTOMISE your map 
  3. Add in all the tag options.
  4. Allow people to SELECT MULTIPLE tags or SHOW BADGE ON IDEAS as needed. 
  5. Click ok and then repeat if you want another set of tags.

turning on the feature

groupmap feature

groupmap tagging of ideas

During your online meeting or workshop, this will show up on the ideas dialogue where people can tag ideas.

groupmap ideas map

You can then filter ideas if you want to focus on a particular aspect.

Click on the stage the click SHOW IDEAS by Category.

show ideas by category

Pro Facilitation Tip

Tagging as you discuss an idea is a neat way to engage people critically as you discuss topics. At the end of the exercise, you can then also manage information overload on the screen by just showing a particular set of ideas (for example all the high priority items) one at a time. 

You can talk through ideas that belong in the same field or category and build on commonality as well as see relationships or gaps.


Ready to run your workshop?

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Got a question or a tip to share? Get in touch

Tips for Online Stakeholder Engagement

Recently, Andrew Huffer, of Andrew Huffer Associates, shared three fast tips for online stakeholder engagement.

He has over 25 years of experience in working with organizations, businesses, managers, and communities at a state, national and international level.

Andrew is a Facilitation, Community Engagement & Team Development Specialist, who can help you and your team members be 100% clear on ‘What’s Next’.

Andrew designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of states, national and international conferences. We’re pleased that GroupMap scored a mention in Andrew’s blog post as an “online engagement tool for people to provide their input individually in real-time during an online stakeholder engagement process.” Thanks, Andrew for the shoutout.

Play Video

Andrew’s top three tips

Andrew has been doing plenty of online stakeholder engagement and has learned a few valuable things that he shared in his blog post, titled “Three fast tips for online stakeholder engagement.”

Tip 1: Keep participants above the line

Andrew commented in his post that engagement should be all about “encouraging them to give ideas that are future-focused; thinking about where the opportunities are in relation to the issue and what’s possible.” He calls this keeping them above the line so that their comments and thinking remain constructive, relevant to the future and solutions based.

GroupMap Collaboration Tool in Action

Tip 2: Equity in input

We love this tip from Andrew because this is what we aim to provide with GroupMap: “[give] people…the chance for that more intimate conversation where they get the chance to be heard. This occurs at all levels from equal speaking time, to equal air time for ideas and include a diverse range of voices.

Tip 3: Have workshop templates ready to go

Another awesome tip is to get all your templates ready for the online engagement workshop that you are running so that “… you to get the data from the workshop ….. and get it out to your participants as quickly as possible.”

Of course, this is something that can you easily do via GroupMap’s readily available or custom templates along with a reporting functionality that allows you to download all workshop discussions, voting, and comments at a click of a button!

GroupMap templates

To read Andrew’s full online stakeholder engagement tips head to this blog post.

GroupMap Open Space Virtual Methodology

groupmap open space live session

Introducing TFK Consulting  

Thomas Krecker of TK Consulting

TFK Consulting is a group coaching and changing advisers based in Hamburg, Germany, who provide their service via virtual workshops, digital facilitations and face-to-face meetings or events. 

Thomas Krecker is the Principal Consultant who has had extensive experience as an events manager and conference organizer. Thomas believes in the power of technology to help deliver a more sustainable, accessible and engaging event. 

He has been working with digital tools for team building since 1995, using them for online and offline facilitating. 

Thomas also co-creates and co-facilitate online workshops for consultants across various industries and disciplines, who want to continue with their existing service offerings and methodology without going too deep into the online world. 

“Good coaching is not reserved for companies and executives. Much of the technology used today in business… can, of course, be used for all human issues, regardless of the environment in which we are located.” 

Challenges with offline Open Space 

Having run many conferences, events and conducting coaching sessions for businesses and companies around the world, Thomas saw the increased importance of new methodologies.

The challenge Thomas saw when conducting traditional conferences face-to-face are:

    • They can be dysfunctional. Studies, including that by University of Utrecht (Stroebe, 2010) show that brainstorming in groups is less effective than thinking for yourself. Continued interruption, group dynamics, hierarchy, extroverted vs less extroverted leaders were some of the main reasons found that can block free thinking!
    • They can be inaccessible. Face to face events are expensive to run and have a time resource effect as well. This can influence attendees’ ability to attend and participate.
    • They can be admin heavy. Most of the breakout and workshop sessions still use flipcharts, pinboards and needles to capture feedback. This often needed to be typed up, transcribed, and translated – a heavy time investment.
    • They do not meet the demands of modern agile Teams

“In 2014, we wanted to program our own solution for better meetings. Since then I have been permanently screening the market for a solution.”

As a solution they combined the Open Space meeting methodology with the advantages of digital facilitation using GroupMap, tablets and beamer instead of pinboards and flipchart, creating instant anonymity, silent work and inspiration, exactly as the participants needed.

GroupMap Open Work Space on tablets

Open Space – often called Barcamp or a non-conference – is participant driven and less organizer-convener-driven. Participants would decide about the conference agenda themselves and are also free to join or leave every conference session, depending on what interests them most.

The next challenge was, to bring this format into the online world.

This process was driven by the conviction that the so-called “new normal” in workshops and team development will need to be a mixture of online and offline meetings. The latter was to be run based on a needs capacity, and as appropriate to the teams’ priorities, such as sustainability, time and money considerations. 

GroupMap Open Space as a solution 

“It turned out that transferring an Open Space into online using GroupMap was much easier than expected.”  

GroupMap Open Work Space Information Booth

Thomas and his team synchronized individual Zoom meetings with GroupMap by pinning the meeting address on the related map.  Each map was then turned into online “rooms” each with a descriptive image that made it feel like you were physically somewhere!

GroupMap Open Space by TK Consulting

For example, the “Foyer” was used not only as the first point of welcome or entrance to the “GroupMap Open Space” but also a teaser practice for writing on a map. Meanwhile the bar and the information counter became easy points for participants to return, get help or just chat outside the other sessions. 

GroupMap Open Work Space Foyer      GroupMap Open Work Space Bar

Being able to enter the rooms without a host’s permission lets you stroll through and join the sessions as you would like – similar to if it was a face to face event. 

“The experience and the idea of room matters a lot to the human brain. It gives orientation, security and inspiration. It adds “a feel” to the screen.” 

Virtual Open Space is a hit! 

According to Thomas, the “GroupMap Open Space” style is one of the most successful formats he has run.

“One of the major advantages of [GroupMap] is the simplicity and the Pinboard look and feel. Especially in online workshops, where same participants are still stressed and get sidetracked by technical issues, the simplicity cannot be overrated.” 

GroupMap Open Work Space Activity

Through GroupMap Open Space conference can be successfully run through combining the use of features such as:

    • The ability to create your own maps – GroupMap’s self customized template options allowed Thomas to transform many existing methodologies – such as many of the liberating structures, root cause analysis, ZRM (picture based resource evaluation), Ishikawa and many more – into the GroupMap templates. 
    • Rating functionality – the ability to rate in different dimensions for brainstorming sessions help to define and weigh each idea in the brainstorming session. 
    • Automatic reporting the ability to have all the information from every session downloadable, without having to transcribe and type up – is a time and resource saving. 
    • Create new maps and workspaces instantlythe ability to create new maps, add new workspaces and sessions while participants are working in other maps allowed for a very agile and responsive way of delivering conferences. 

Session Board Example

GroupMap build teams and encourages brainstorming 

“GroupMap is the core of team building and brainstorming for our customers, like Google or Microsoft is the core for the standard processes.”  

Thomas indicated that the feedback on “GroupMap Open Space” has been predominantly very good, with most participants being impressed by the speed and the platform’s ability to create a real “group feeling” online. 

“The best feedback I heard was from a group of 35 consultants who ended up using a GroupMap Open Space as a substitute for a personal meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They had doubts that a virtual open space would work. In the end, they came out with better and more results than in any physical meeting before.” 

Want to try GroupMap for your next online meeting? 

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 collaboration tool for FREE for 14 days today. 

Webinar Digital Facilitation Techniques: Keeping Our Most Precious Resources Safe & Secure.


Leadership in water management via digital facilitation  

As a member of the Water Harmony Global Initiative (WHGI) and research group on Water, Environment, Sanitation and Health (WESH), Dr Zakhar Maletskyi runs global webinars and digital facilitation.

He takes on a facilitator role for both organisations and its related groups, managing workshops and webinars. These events are attended by global researchers, government officials, security experts, not for profit specialists. Together they brainstorm and develop solutions for challenges our world face when it comes to securing and protecting our most valuable natural resources. 

Some key facilitation highlights for Dr Maletskyi include:

  • The Water Harmony Global Initiative (WHGI)’s webinar to further the teaching of water related education globally, with participants attending from Africa, Asia, the EU and North America.
  • Interactive webinar to discuss the opportunities and threats that digital technologies bring to our water source.
  • Water, Society and Climate Change interactive workshop on “Solutions to water & climate change nexus.”
  •  SWARM+ Erasmus project workshop on Strengthening of master curricula in water resources management for the Western Balkans HEIs and stakeholders.
Dr Maletskyi presenting at the 2022 IWA Congress

“As a facilitator, my responsibilities are to drive group work through brainstorming and establish the most prudent solutions to water resource management issues that countries are facing globally.”

Challenges of running webinars & digital facilitation 

Webinar digital facilitation brings many benefits – the obvious ones being a wider, more global audience, time and cost savings from travels, physical venue bookings and materials. 

One of the main challenge of webinar digital facilitation for Dr Maletskyi is interaction, which covers a wide range of further challenges, including:

  • Lack of visual cues and feedback 
  • Lack of engagement 
  • How to build connection between participants
  • How to connect well as the facilitator

With so many digital facilitation options available as well, wading through to find one that presents solutions to all of the above can also be a challenge in itself. The goal was to find a simple visual tool that was process driven that could help engage interaction and collaboration centered around the key themes.

GroupMap creates successful webinar digital facilitation  

Dr Maletskyi came across GroupMap and has been using it to digitally facilitate important workshops and webinars around the world. 

Dr Maletskyi has used GroupMap with smaller groups of close colleagues, and also for webinars, one of which reached 251 participants.  The event targeted Managing risks form digitalisation in the water sector and was a 90 minute webinar session that involved presentations, interactive audience activities and a Q&A session with Panelists:

He explains that before starting up any GroupMap session, he would send participants a basic agenda as part of his PowerPoint presentations. 

In the agenda, Dr Maletskyi includes a brief tutorial on how to use GroupMap  – how to interact with the templates, and how to share ideas. He also used the Survey tool in GroupMap to get a sense of who was participating in the webinars.

Risk Management in GroupMap

“I found GroupMap effective for my needs because not only was it a familiar tool but unlike other tools it allowed for a step by step process,” commented Dr Maletskyi.  

Webinar Polling
“Other tools don’t provide the same level of interaction as GroupMap. It has a clear and concise process, from brainstorming to rating of opinions and ideas and finally the results. This is extremely useful with my groups.”

“This type of interaction hasn’t been replicated by any of the other tools that I have used.”

Digital Facilitation Risk Assessment

Global water management in safe hands 

Dr Maletskyi shared how GroupMap allowed successful interaction with 251 global participants on managing cyber security threat on the water sector:

“It was easy to run the webinar thanks to the simple but effective features of the risk assessment template. The people voted on certain portions of the map for five risks. These were risks that would require management. All the votes organized the risk severity from most to least.”

“GroupMap can neatly organize the large volume of people brainstorming at once, allowing large amounts of information that doesn’t overwhelm the users and facilitators’ screens.” 

Dr Maletskyi commented that large webinar events that require interaction for its success would not have been possible without GroupMap. 

“I use GroupMap with many of the people I work with currently. I’ve had success with GroupMap for webinars and my university work. Now I encourage people who attend my lectures and webinars to use the tool.” 

The ability to gather global information and data in an organized and meaningful way results in time and money savings. It also means quality data could be shared, accessed and analysed more effectively. Action items could then also be added in real time to the top risks and reports generated for the webinar.

Want to try GroupMap for your next online meeting? 

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 collaboration tool for FREE for 14 days today. 

IAF Facilitator shares workshop and online facilitation techniques for effective brainstorming

One of the major goals of any workshop is effective brainstorming and the equal and free sharing of ideas. With Government Forums and workshops, transparency and being time efficient is also key. In this case study, we look at the facilitation techniques used by IAF Facilitator and Author Paul Nunesdea at a well reputed Government Health Forum.

Event Background 

Since 2008, the  Annual National Forum on Alcohol and Health (locally abbreviated as FNAS) sees members of both the government and non-government sectors workshop issues on alcohol and its impact on public health.

This forum is organized by the General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies. (Serviço de Intervenção nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Dependências or SICAD). 

(Photo source:


In May 2019, SICAD invited Paulo Nunes de Abreu (aka Paul Nunesdea) to facilitate the forum’s opening session. We learned how he uses his facilitation leadership style, along with various GroupMap templates to achieve his workshop outcomes.


Facilitator Background

Paul is a certified IAF practitioner at Col-Lab, Author of the book series “Architecting Collaboration”, PhD and proud father, manager and organizational psychologist. He obtained his PhD in Group Decision Making from the University of Lancaster. Paul started Col-Lab, the Iberian Summits of Healthcare Leaders in Spain and the Hospital of the Future Forum in Portugal. 

He espouses the power and value of collaboration and teamwork. He devotes his research time into the principles, methods, and techniques that foster them. From the concepts of the facilitative leader to capitalizing on the efficacy of digital facilitation, Paul aims to develop the ideal fit between people and process to create change-making outcomes. 

As Paul explains, “As an IAF (TM) Certified Professional Facilitator, I am aware that every meeting we design is a touchpoint for anyone to experience an engaging moment in their lives with a tangible purpose that you can measure.”

He specializes in digital tools for visual collaboration and group decision-making. Paul has designed interventions to optimize change and innovation in healthcare and education within regional and national governments. Since pioneering GroupVision in the 90’s, he has recently founded Col-Lab (Collaboration Laboratory), where he continues to work with managers, teachers, trainers and facilitators to achieve extraordinary results.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Workshop objectives and goals

Paul was approached to do a keynote speech to motivate participants to engage in the overall theme. 

A secondary objective was to help the various FNAS members engage with other participants in their own intervention programs.

“The Deputy Director of SICAD asked us to select a topic,” Paul explains. “ After an intensive brainstorming session using GroupMap, the theme that was chosen by the facilitation team was: ‘How can we make the commercial communication of alcoholic drinks evolve in the sphere of sport?’”

The challenge, as Paul elaborates “  was to have the members of the FNAS, (who) normally work independently, to start work collaboratively among each other. That is to say, to increase the level of collaboration among members; to jointly accomplish their commitments and where their sense of identity of being a member of the FNAS is reinforced.”


The Facilitation Process Used

Simplicity was key, as Paul states “We started with the concept that less is more”

“Using blank templates,  we created five maps, one for each session in the Agenda. The first map was used in the opening session, meaning that the delegates had access to all subsequent maps throughout the day”   

Paul continues, “In the opening session, we have followed the 1-2-4-all group dynamic to collect participant’s inputs about the question. These were grouped in 5 categories and then subject to vote for selecting the most important ones.” 

“The ideas were categorized according to the different focal points of the forum: awareness and education, legislation, inspection, decoupling of alcohol from sport, and the evolution of ideas.

Gathering all the ideas and sub-topics would have been cumbersome and time-consuming. But according to Paul, the participants were able to discuss and collect all the ideas in just under 60 minutes. “

“(GroupMap) was a critical element. Not just during the session, but also afterward to produce the detailed session reports at the push of a button.” Paul describes, “We managed to collect ideas from a large group of more than 50 participants that would otherwise be cumbersome and totally impractical in a 60-minute session.”


(Photo source:


Workshop outputs and participant feedback

Paul shares the overwhelmingly positive reaction that he got from the participants after the session. “(They had a) huge smile on their faces saying, ‘I really enjoy this session’, or ‘I have never been in a meeting like this before’, ‘thank you’,” exclaims Paul. “It is a blessing to receive such comments as it makes us feel that our work as group facilitators is really impactful and makes a contribution to change people’s attitudes and outlook.“


(Photo source:

Paul uses digital facilitation tool to augment his practice and techniques to bring out the best of both the analog and digital world of workshop facilitation. As Paul states, “I never cease to be surprised by the ease of use of this platform. I believe it helps me to bring tangible value to the customers who hire me.”


Further workshop tips and advice

We were curious to understand what tips and learnings Paul had from running the event. One of these was around reflection and closure when it came to digesting the information produced.

“In the debriefing session afterward, the facilitation team realized that we could have used GroupMap to collectively display results to the group and provide a better sense of closure.  A simple way would be to invite the group to read out contributions made. They can then discuss how they felt their voice and comments are reflected in the results to ensure buy-in.”

Paul recommends facilitators familiarize themselves with GroupMap. He believes it is a valuable tool that can help in the flow and success of facilitation activities. As he states” Take the Swiss Army knife approach in choosing the right template to use. It’s like your Swiss Army knife when you go out into the woods. Same with GroupMap templates. Try out different templates to find out what works best for your facilitation activities.”

Thanks to Col-Lab, you can contact them to discover or find out more about the different templates they used for the workshops. You can inquire here

Going beyond the face to face workshop

Another aspect that Paul finds useful with GroupMap is its remote accessibility. He recalls us about another experience where he had to conduct a workshop from a remote location. He was in Lisbon while the group was in Celfocus HQ in Oporto. 

“I remember back in the 90s. I worked with LAN-based group decision support systems. It was so cumbersome to install the system and then have to train participants to use it.  With GroupMap, it’s simple and there’s nothing to install. The facilitator can be remote,” he exclaims.

Paul was an expert speaker at the Remote Future Summit, the biggest virtual conference centered around the future of the remote workforce.

He ran an online workshop titled “What’s Facilitative Leadership and How Remote Work Immensely Benefits for it.” The session was centered around the concepts of the facilitative leader and how it requires a change to promote teamwork and group decision making.


The online participants completed a Survival On The Moon activity.” Paul explains,” A moon landing chart with 15 items is given to participants to rank in order of what they think is most important. They do this individually first. GroupMap instantly shows the overall group perspective. They  can then debate and discuss to decide on an overall group ranking.” 

“The challenge is not only to stay alive but to listen to every member of the team! Each person talks about their own view and the overall team view. This fosters communication and decision-making skills.” concludes Paul. “We could then debrief the results in real-time to illustrate the outcomes.”

Looking for an event or digital workshop facilitator?

Looking for a better way to facilitate workshops and meetings? Paul can be contacted via Col-Lab website or by e-mail to answer any questions or to elaborate on how he facilitates workshop outcomes. 

Strategy And Time-saving Tips For Your Next Continuous Improvement Meeting.

Having a Continuous Improvement Process mindset is essential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  One has to be intuitive enough to deal with the intricacies of systems, people, policies and processes whilst still driving change, collaboration and innovation across functions.

As Continuous Improvement Manager for a Food Manufacturing company or almost 8 years, “Patti” helps teams kick start projects in the right direction, run deep dives into project scope and unpacks the complex business landscape from production to waste management using a range of facilitated activities as part of her team meetings.

With specializations in Lean Manufacturing, Operations, Supply Chain Optimization, Coaching, Goods Manufacturing Practice, and Team Building, she uses Six Sigma and continuous improvement methods to provide measurable and sustainable improvements across behavioural, systems, process and regulatory processes. 

We reached out to Patti to understand more about how she used GroupMap and to get ideas about what was and was not working for her. With her permission, we’ve been able to share extracts of that interview below. 



What kind of team-based activities and meetings do you run?


I run project startup and kick-off meetings to help make sure that people are aligned and working on the right solution from the very beginning. This includes defining objectives and deliverables for projects and helping them clearly define them.

Examples of this process include Stakeholder Maps, Risk Maps and tactical shutdown protocols. From a strategic planning process, we might use SWOT Analysis as well as group ratings of strategies for decision making. 

In terms of reflective practice, this includes the 4L’s, starfish retrospectives and MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won’t) to name a few.  We would take our teams through a process to share what they have learned from our projects and decide on what we needed to start doing, stop doing, keep doing as well as what we needed to do more or less of. 

At the last meeting, for example, we had 22 people in a team, who come up with 74 action items based on what we had shared from our initial learning and brainstorming event.

In terms of more ad hoc event, we would use the Impact Effort Matrix to help prioritize our different strategies or projects or develop a continuous improvement plan based on cycle periods. This is a really great way to help teams see the larger picture and to help plan and prioritize our activities overall as well as making sure people across areas are aligned.


What are some of the practices you use as a CI (Continuous Improvement) Manager?

As a CI Manager, one of my key roles is to clearly define problem statements by understanding the scope of the project. For example, when a vision or goal starts to form, I lead them by breaking down the project into what it IS and what it IS NOT. It sounds simple enough but it can lead to some great discussion so it is a great way to manage project scope and to help the team better crystalize and visualize it.

When troubleshooting, I like using a mind map with a root cause that branches out with 5 WHYs to allow people to find root causes of issues and to be able to see the flow-on impacts. The flexibility of being able to add multiple root causes and then have as many WHYs as needed enables every team member to really understand the problem. You identify the original concern and then you can start to deep dive as far as needed to get to the root cause, without being limited or confirming specifically to 5.


For prioritizing ideas, I use Rate by Impact vs Implementation matrix with the team to help prioritize which activities we should focus on, the sequence and how we need to allocate our time and resources. 

The means that we would take the action items that were seen to have the highest {positive} impact on the project with the least barriers to implement as our low hanging fruit and put those into action first. We could then do deep-dive discussions over the remaining items as well as filter out the items that would have the least {positive} impact and would be the hardest to implement.



What are some of your “Go-to” questions when talking to your team?


I would say that my top 5 would generally be questions like…


  •       What are our main objectives and deliverables?
  •       What are things that are a must-have versus nice to have?
  •       Who are we doing this for?
  •       What does success look like for us?
  •       How do we do this and how much should we do?


In terms of how we run sessions, we might start with a little ice breaker as a meet and greet and to get the team started with the session. We then decide on key objectives based on what has been given to us by our Principals and flesh out the expected deliverables required. This helps us determine the scope of the activities. 

Following this, we are able to break down requirements for certain key requirements to reduce risk and remove uncertainty as well as looking for any constraints that might impede on our program. 

Finally, we go through an exercise looking at the interrelations between processes or other projects that would otherwise impact the time, budget or quality of the project.


What have been some of your experience using GroupMap with your team so far?


Having facilitated a range of activities for the past 20 years, I was shocked when I realized I was still using the same old process. Sticky notes and markers can only go so far and using online meeting facilitation tools like GroupMap has made my facilitation process easier and quicker. One of the attendees at my workshop came up and said he was so happy because on the plane ride home he would actually get to watch a movie because the work had been done and he didn’t have to re-write notes and ideas from photographs of post-it notes.

There has been a BIG increase in participation of members and ideas produced. At the end of each event, we generate PDFs and excel files for each group map and then share them with the project owners for easier review of their brainstorming activity. It feels like we may be getting 25% more ideas when using GroupMap compared to traditional brainstorming methods.

My colleagues are super positive too. One said, my team and I are absolutely loving this tool! Today I put together some new templates based on some problem-solving models including a 5 Why MindMap and a Cause and Effect Diagram. We are piloting the use of GroupMap to help our root cause analysis structure.“  

Another said, “GroupMap has added an incredible amount of value to our manufacturing facility. I am looking forward to finding even more ways to incorporate it in our processes.”


What would be your top 3 tips as a to other users of GroupMap?


  1. Create as many templates as possible to save time!
  2. Import ideas from map to map and arrange them differently to generate a new conversation. Don’t waste time retyping the same information over and over.
  3. Push your creativity, look at what processes you can bring into GroupMap to make the process of problem-solving or continuous improvement more effective. It is a HUGE time saver.


This article has been anonymized at the client’s request. All practices, outcomes and feedback was shared through a series of interviews, emails and meeting evaluations.



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Innovative Group Response System Used as Scenario Planning Software to Explore the Future of Australia’s Health

Curtin Research Group uses innovative group response system and scenario planning software to explore the future of Health in Australia

What is the future of Health in Australia in 2022?

To answer this question, Professor Dawn Foreman and her fellow co-facilitators led a national cohort of health professionals in a scenario planning workshop, commissioned through the Department of Health. Their goal was to introduce brainstorming techniques and scenario planning tools for groups to identify group generated responses as to which factors would impact the Health of Australian citizens in 2022 and its impact on Interprofessional practice and education. (IPP and IPE).

Chiri 2

Electronic brainstorming through GroupMap technology was used to facilitate group ideation around the question what would be the key influences on health in 20 years time. Getting everyone’s contribution and perspectives from key stakeholders across the sector was vital to ensure that the participants were engaged and owned the process, and to build consensus within the group.

Team electronic brainstorming was done through iPads. Ideas were instantly shared, consolidated, merged and shown to everyone to allow more time for discussion. GroupMap provided a means for electronic brainstorming on ipads which facilitated collaboration within the group quickly and easily. Team facilitators could see what the individual teams thought and contrast this against the consensus within the room. By making sure that the group was generating, plotting and consolidating the ideas helped to ensure that this workshop belonged to them. GroupMap was also selected for its innovative and novel approach to ensure that the group was exposed to new technology.

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90 participants used GroupMap to generate over 136 ideas using a mind mapping format which were then culled back into the top 6. These top 6 were then taken into a 2D (XY) axis chart and plotted against the level of uncertainty and the level of importance. The influences that were the most uncertain and most important could then be used to create the framework for scenarios in the future.

We created our own scenario for you to explore. What would be your ideas for an ideal future in health care? Add your ideas.

Great result for CHIRI, but also for the participants with two thirds saying they could use GroupMap in their own organisations. It was great to see the health professionals moving towards collaborative technology and practice. The results of the workshop were then published and reported back to the Department of Health for further policy planning.

Professor Dawn Foreman currently works with Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) and is planning to use GroupMap as a scenario planning and online brainstorming tool in future scenario planning workshops.

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Here are some of our tips on how to use GroupMap for effective group brainstorming:

  • GroupMap is an online and live group brainstorming tool – Ditch the powerpoints as instructions on the day and use a training / play map to get people into the mood and to break the ice.
  • Make it Visible – Keeping the GroupMap up on a big screen in the room let’s everyone get a sense of “where everyone is at” and what they are thinking and how it’s changing over time.
  • Pull the group back together – go through the groupmap to elicit discussion and further debate. (You can lock the map if you want to pause changes)
  • Reiterate, reiterate – Don’t be scared of giving the group another go. After discussion, it’s interesting to see how people and teams change (or don’t change) their minds. No manual collation means you have more time to make revisions on the go
  • Ask teams to compare their maps against the group – ask them why they agreed with certains ideas and also why they might have disagreed.
  • Explore the “grey” zone – A great feature of GroupMap is that it shows those ideas where there is contention between the group. This might appear as ideas which had equal Yes and No votes or where they are all plotted together tightly in a cluster on a 2D chart. This is a great area for stimulating discussion.

We hope you find these ideas for better group brainstorming useful when planning your next session.

Meeting facilitation tools to give quiet team members a voice

When it comes to effective team decision making and group brainstorming, it seems to be hindered by those who shout the loudest that get the most attention, even in the digital space. As an extrovert, my (wrong) approach has always been that introverts are just broken extroverts. They need to learn to speak up, think faster and just learn how to fit in with the way we get our teams to brainstorm and generate ideas.

Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” highlights that Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverts.  While extroverts recharge around other people and process their thoughts out loud introverts generally recharge on their own and process thoughts internally, sharing only when they have reached conclusions. Blend this into the traditional ways team generate ideas, brainstorm and make decisions, means that team decision making is skewed to those who speak the most, the loudest or the last.

This was really evident in one of the companies I led where in our management meetings, we would make decisions and regularly the day after the same team member would come back with an email expressing why they didn’t agree or had a different perspective. It was frustrating not just because they clearly weren’t behind the decision, but because they often had very valuable reasons that would have really helped the decision-making process – had they just given that input the day before when we were making the decision.

From Cain’s perspective, the team member in question was an introvert who processed his thoughts differently to the other members of the team. What we needed to do was find a different way to get his contribution into our brainstorming sessions. As Cain says “There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

“Introverts are not broken extroverts”

Quiet, shy, introverted people are some of the best thinkers we have in our organisations and we need to find ways to help get their input. GroupMap is one of the meeting facilitation tools that helped me with this. The facilitation process can be customised to our needs – but most importantly it gave each individual their own thinking space – which can then be combined to reveal the group perspective in real time. As an online tool – it also means – people can be given time before the group session to add what they are thinking so it can be captured in that quiet place – rather than only by speaking up in a group meeting.

The bite is this. 40% of our workforce is actually considered to be introverts. That is a significant percentage of our team that we must recognize in order to truly get the results we want. For the collaborative leader, the skills needed to bring everyone into the conversation are key. Greater participation and engagement in the decision-making process can be improved by considering the way we capture and share ideas and solutions to problems.

How do I make my agile retrospective more effective?

Retrospectives are great to build a strong, productive team, but there can be a few challenges that impact on the quality of the process. We have a list of what stops an effective team retrospective.

Getting people to be genuinely honest; to tell everyone what they really think is vitally important. Without this, you may as well continue on in a shroud of optimistic candour and hopeful bliss. The problem is that most rather not hurt the feelings of the colleagues directly.. or even the boss. Anonymity is often the key here.
Getting all the ideas down quickly, collated for review, comment and taking action is a manual process especially if you have a large team or one that is distributed. A meeting that takes too long, without purpose or lacks visibility can be a big downer to the process. Keep it quick, nimble and automated.
Ensuring you have synthesised the outcomes and people can vote on key focus areas and to take some real action makes sure the whole team moves forward. Don’t leave until you have a few take away action points.


Make your retro anonymous, ask team members to work independently for a fixed period of time and then allow a chance for everyone to read the feedback and make comments. (Either verbally if the culture is right and everyone is present, or via the comments options against each idea). Allocated dot votes mean that each person gets their say in what is being taken into the next iteration. How many votes is really a matter of choice? Teams that do weekly retrospectives may allocate 5 dotes representing the working weeks whilst others limit it to 3 to find the top key items.
Have a record of your agile retrospective so it acts as a way to get participation and buy-in from the team. And you can see how each team member has participated.
Print off a screen capture and stick it on the office wall as a way to remind the team of what they selected.
If you want to save even more time, open up the map earlier to allow people to list down thoughts throughout the iteration or before the meeting itself.
Check out the full recipe here. Use one of the templates or create your own unique question set.Try it out with your next agile retrospective and let us know what you think.