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. 

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

Case Study: AHCWA Uses Interactive Tools to Facilitate Engaging Workshops

Setting the scene

Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) is the peak body for the 22 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and was looking to engage their delegates with interactive facilitation tools at their conference.

The conference involved sixteen wonderful presenters discussing subjects ranging from environmental health issues to sexual health and social issues. 12 engaging workshops over 2 days involved key stakeholders from healthcare professionals to community members to policymakers. GroupMap (workshop facilitation tool) captured thoughts, opinions, and potential solutions from over 250 participants in real-time. Read on to find out how.

How were the workshops run?

Each workshop began with a presentation and a short discussion involving the workshop issue. After discussion, the audience broke up into groups, with each table having a digital scribe to record thoughts and comments onto a private map.

Each table was able to contribute in real-time, as well as comment and vote on ideas they felt most strongly about. As participants did so, the results were displayed via projector for the whole room to see.

As the workshop progressed, it was great to see the culmination of the room’s ideas and audience response captured and displayed front and center. Participants brainstormed what issues currently exist, what are the gaps, what has worked well, and what needs to be done.

This ultimately culminated in a group discussion on concerns relevant to the group, with a range of possible solutions to propose to the government.

Top 5 takeaways for conference planners

  1. Driven by audience feedback

    Feedback from last year’s conference saw a need for more audience interaction and contribution and this was the driving force behind this year’s workshop structure. The engagement was semi-structured with a lightning presentation on a key topic, grouped table discussion which was captured, shared, and discuss with the whole group in real-time, followed by questions and comments from the room.

  2. Ask the right questions

    The questions you ask direct the minds of participants and guides discussion. In this case, the questions were focused on what are the existing gaps, and what solutions or steps should be taken. Clear and concise questions acted as signposts and made it difficult to wander off-topic.

  3. Using interactive workshop facilitation tools

    Collaboration is time consuming when people have to take turns speaking. Interactive facilitation tools  (in this case GroupMap) allowed workshops to rapidly collect and store ideas in order to dive right into the discussion. As ideas were shared on the big screen, all the views in the room could be seen and added to the goals of the event.

  4. Mix it up

    The conference also showcased a musical number from an Indigenous Youth Group, inspiring storytelling, and a plethora of different topics.

  5. Following through

    Often we go through all the hard work and forget to capitalize on our efforts. Collating all the sticky notes can be too daunting a task. As there were separate reports for each topic and workshop, this could then be easily reviewed and an action list created.

What was the reaction?

It was great to see everyone engaged and enjoying the workshop collaborations. Workshop facilitators were able to customize how the audience interacted with GroupMap (in this case mainly through voting on the most important ideas and issues) leading to a more effective and focused discussion. Having a real-time brainstorming tool allowed people to share their ideas and to have this captured in real-time.

Having concluded the interactive workshops it was time to wrap things up with a review of everyone’s comments and ideas. The facilitators printed off their reports during the morning tea break, and shortly after the group as a whole enjoyed each facilitator’s presentation on what workshop participants had to say about the issues at hand.

Looking for more?

Inspired to use GroupMap at your next conference? Start your free trial today, and if you need help or have any questions get in touch with us.

Easy Ways to Develop Key Collaboration Skills

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Collaboration is when people work together to achieve a common goal; it’s a practice valued by the majority of top organizations.

Why?

When people work together, they can –  

  • solve problems faster
  • make better decisions
  • increase their productivity
  • Increase the likelihood of success

That’s right, with solid collaboration skills, actions become more efficient, and communication becomes more effective. It’s no wonder high-level collaboration skills are amongst the top-ranking soft skills employers look for when recruiting.

The great news is, you can easily improve your collaboration skills with these simple steps.

1. Be Open

Being open or open-minded means considering other points of view and trying to be empathetic to other people (even when you don’t agree with them).

Being open will help you –

  • Learn

It’s impossible to learn if you don’t encounter new knowledge and ideas. Expanding your boundaries and connecting with people who have different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences can help you discover new information and fresh ways of thinking.

  • Feel happy

Being open can help support a more optimistic outlook. It helps you explore new experiences, embrace new friendships and consider alternative ways of doing things, all while being less judgemental. 

  • Broaden your horizons

The bigger your world, the greater the number of possibilities that exist for you. Unpacking your existing beliefs and considering new ideas can help you gain fresh insight into the world and yourself.

  • Build resilience

Staying open to new ideas and experiences can help you become stronger. You learn to better contextualize failure, become more self-aware, develop mechanisms to better deal with uncertainty, and remain motivated.

Becoming more open is surprisingly easy –

  • Decide to be open

That’s right, making the conscious decision to consider other points of view and how others may feel will help you become more open-minded.

  • Listen

Engage with empathy, suspend judgment, and pay attention to what is being said. While it’s important to seek clarity if points aren’t clear and paraphrase to ensure you’ve understood things correctly, keep in mind this isn’t about what you think, but rather what you can discover.

  • Exhibit curiosity

Seek information and ask questions of others so you better understand their points of view; you can say things such as –

    • Tell me more.
    • What ideas were explored?
    • What was considered?
    • How was the decision reached?

and examine your own understanding by considering –

    • The reliability of your information (are they facts or opinions?)
    • How much you really know about the topic
    • The process you followed to reach your conclusion
  • Remain mindful of bias

Unfortunately, humans come fully equipped with a variety of inbuilt biases. There’s confirmation bias (where we unconsciously pay more attention to things that support our existing beliefs and ignore things that challenge those beliefs); anchoring (this sees us heavily value recent information or experiences and then use it to make judgments); the halo effect (we make the assumption that if a person, brand or organisation is good at one thing, they will be good at another); the Dunning-Kruger effect (we perceive ourselves to be smarter than we really are). 

There are many, many more types of bias. The important thing is to be aware they exist and to take active steps to overcome them.

  • Contextualise expertise

While it’s possible to know a lot; it’s simply not possible for someone to know everything. Strangely, those who consider themselves experts are the most likely to forget this, and tend to more easily dismiss the ideas of others. Additionally, experts are just as susceptible to bias as non-experts. 

When people are open to new information and ideas, decisions can be more creative and better informed.

2. Be Clear

Communicating clearly is essential no matter your role. When channels of communication break down, it’s likely efficiency, productivity and morale will too.

Successful collaborators are good communicators. They are aware that good communication helps to build rapport, stronger working relationships, and of course, convey information. 

They also know that not everyone likes to communicate in the same way; so below we look at the three different types of communication through the lens of collaboration.

  • Verbal communication

Always think before speaking. Giving yourself time to consider your question or response will help improve them.

Consider the words you use. Ensure you’re concise, and use language that’s accessible. Avoid jargon and include unnecessary detail. Once your point is conveyed, you can stop speaking.

Pay attention to tone. Using a friendly, warm tone gives the impression you are willing to engage while using a monotone will make you appear disinterested in the conversation. Paying attention to the tone others use is equally important; if someone is speaking softly, follow their lead; people are more likely to pay attention to voices that sound like their own.

  • Written communication

Keep the outcomes in mind. If you are looking for a way to capture the ideas and information generated during the collaborative session, obviously writing things down is the way to go. If participants record that information themselves it increases the likelihood that the information has been captured accurately. Having participants write down their ideas will also give them time to think about and structure their thoughts. If however, you hope participants will engage in healthy debate or dissent, doing so in writing requires a lot more effort than discussion and it may impact the level of effort participants are willing to direct to the collaborative process.

Consider time. Written communication is a great way to go if you wish to facilitate an asynchronous collaborative session, or if you are working with remote participants. In such a case, ensure you have conveyed timeframes clearly so people respond when you need them to. 

Use a collaboration tool. Using a tool designed to support your collaboration is a game-changer. Not only are they crafted to help you capture and share ideas, but they can also help you structure the collaborative process itself. Additionally, they include features such as surveys, polls, anonymous settings, idea tagging, grouping, and ranking. Participants can enter their own ideas and suggestions with the collaborative tool delivering real-time results and exportable reports that can be easily shared.

  • Non-verbal communication

Make eye contact. Our eyes (along with our eyebrows), can convey a number of nonverbal cues. We tend to look towards the person or thing that has our attention, so if you are staring out the window rather than looking at the person speaking during a collaborative session, it’s easy to tell where your focus lies. 

Maintain open posture. From our heads to our feet, how we position ourselves speaks volumes. We can convey defensiveness (crossed arms and legs), a lack of energy (slouched shoulders), and honesty (open palms). Adopting an open posture (sitting or standing up straight, facing the speaker) gives the impression that you are listening to what is being said. 

Use facial expressions. Facial expressions are the most used mechanisms we have that convey emotions. Interestingly, many facial expressions transcend cultures; a smile, for example, conveys a positive response no matter what language you speak. Engage with your facial expressions; while a quizzical expression will indicate more information is needed, and a smile can indicate agreement, a blank face can indicate a lack of engagement or indifference. People are more likely to respond to positive facial expressions than negative ones.

3. Be Organised

Members of the GroupMap team are big fans of being organized because it benefits you in so many different ways. It helps you get things done faster, makes meetings more effective, and supports the collaborative process.

Being organized will help you build and deliver a collaborative process within a safe environment. It will allow you to focus on the collaboration rather than the mechanics of it.

  • Send out placeholders to book participants well in advance. Holding a collaborative session at the start of a week and month will help you side-step slots that are traditionally aligned to deadlines.
  • Gather your equipment. Whether you’re using a whiteboard, flip charts, post-it notes, or an online tool, procuring the equipment you need sooner rather than later will free you up to deal with other details later.
  • Design your process. Be clear as to the steps you wish your participants to follow during the session. In broad terms, collaborative sessions tend to follow a combination of the following steps – 
    • Brainstorm
    • Review
    • Discuss
    • Vote or rate
    • Define next steps
  • Create space in your own schedule. Ensure you don’t have any pressing matters you will need to address just before the collaboration session. If you can avoid them, don’t schedule meetings immediately prior to the collaboration session, and allocate some time beforehand to deal with the unexpected (flip charts that have been borrowed and not returned, a manager who urgently needs the room you have booked, etc).
  • Follow up. After the session, circulate notes and action items. Check-in with participants to see if they need more information to address the actions allocated to them.

4. Be Critical

No, this isn’t suggesting you become judgemental; far from it. 

Considering something critically is doing so clearly and rationally. Critical thinking requires reason, it sees people actively exploring ideas rather than passively accepting them.  

A critical thinker will look for the links between ideas, and try to gather the information that ensures they have considered all perspectives. They will analyze and solve problems logically and systematically rather than relying on their instinct or intuition. 

To critically consider ideas, you could –

  • ask about the source of information
  • consider if it is a fact or opinion
  • ask if it’s time-proof
  • if the idea subject to any type of influence
  • weigh up pros and cons

To ensure everyone feels comfortable assessing ideas, start with your own. Encourage participants to critique the ideas you offered; have them use the above points to explore your suggestions. 

When collaborating, all ideas should be examined critically. Discussing ideas thoroughly will help them improve. 

Start Collaborating Today

The best way to develop collaboration skills is to practice them!

GroupMap is an online tool that can dramatically improve the outputs of collaboration sessions. 

Whether you’re conducting a collaborative meeting online, face-to-face, or a combination of the two, GroupMap can help you plan and deliver workshops where impactful ideas are generated.

Start your 14-day trial now!

Have more questions or would like a demo?

Zoom Break Out Rooms and GroupMap for Remote Meetings

Using Zoom break out rooms is great for creating smaller groups for discussion especially if you need to have larger virtual conferences, meetings or workshops. With its recent security upgrades and participants’ self-selection of rooms, it now makes it a little easier for people to navigate to their own space.  

You can use GroupMap for each breakout group to capture their ideas which can then be shared back with everyone during plenary. It’s a great way of making sure each group has its own space to think, but then have a quick and easy way for all the ideas to be shared and discussed.

For example, we have created a map for each Breakout room and provided the links to each team for their activity.

 

Breakout Rooms GroupMap and Zoon

Decide on the break out room activity

What is the actual activity you want participants to do? Do you simply want them to share and capture ideas, come up with a plan or perhaps a round robin discussion in a world cafe format style.  Depending on the activity, you can then choose HOW you want people to interact during break outs.

e.g.

  • “I want to create a separate activity or discussion map for each group”
  • “I have a series of activities for each group to work through with a facilitator”
  • “I want to have an open space where people can move in and out of various activities.”

Based on this, you can then set up your maps and workspaces accordingly and add instructions so that participants know what they should do when they first join the room and activity. 

With GroupMap you can either duplicate the same activity for all groups which can then be discussed per group, or into a single map for further discussion or action. You can also decide if you want groups to see ideas from others or just to have it to themselves for now.

Inviting people into Zoom or GroupMap

 
Assuming you have created your Zoom breakout rooms, you can either pre-assign people to each room, allow them to self select or allocate names to each break out room separately.
 
If you want separate activities for each group, then you have to share the link with the group chat or share with a designated facilitator. At this point, Zoom does not yet have the feature to allow you to add resources beforehand to each breakout group.
 

If you have a series of activities for each group, then share the workspace link.

GroupMap and Zoom Tip
Add GroupMap link to Zoom Chat or Invite

Each GroupMap or Workspace has a link which can be shared in the chat window in Zoom. This is useful if you don’t know who will be attending that day or you’ve created a new map. 

You can use the same link in your calendar or meeting invites. At this time, Zoom does not have the function to have preset links for each breakout room.

If you know who is coming, you can send them an email beforehand.

People can be invited as viewers, contributors or facilitators.

adding zoom link to GroupMap
Add your Zoom Link to GroupMap
You can also add a Zoom link to your GroupMap.
People can join a map, read the introduction (Or in this case check out the bar) and then click on the Zoom invite to join the conversation.

Provide clear instructions for participants in the breakout rooms

It’s common that when we enter a different room or space that we need a little help remembering what needs to be done in our small groups. A few simple instructions for each breakout room will help remind people what they are there to do. 

Here’s an example of a quick instruction in GroupMap for Brainstorm but you can add instructions for each step.  E.g. Vote for the most value added, the ones that you think are most important or, the ones that you think are most creative.

Breakout Group instructions

Facilitating remote breakout sessions at meetings

 

There’s a couple of nifty features in GroupMap that will help your facilitators manage each break out group. This allows each small group facilitator to set timers and move everyone to the same page when doing the activity.

 

Use the Timer to keep conversation flowing.

Zoom uses a session timer to help manage time as well as the bringing everyone back to the main group page. However, you can also set additional timers for each stage to help time box activities.

Move all participants to step

 

Move everyone to a specific step in a map

This is handy for bringing everyone in the workspace to the same map so that you are literally on the same page.

If you have several groups with different facilitators, then keep the maps separate so that they can self manage.

 

Screen Share the results.

Move from group to group and screen share the maps on Zoom to allow people to speak from each group. Enabling screen sharing on Zoom allows a spokesperson from each group to speak up, or you can take the lead and share you screen with everyone.

You can also lock the map to prevent further changes or click on ideas to add additional comments and insights.

Other handy tips for facilitating remote team meetings

  • If you don’t know when people will join your session, add links to your Zoom Background or at the footer of your presentation so they can join your map at any time.

  • Use a “Lights Out” technique when it comes time to individual brainstorming and thinking. This means cameras and mics off so that people can focus on their own thoughts and come up with their own ideas during the break out room.

  • Add movement to your meeting. Just like in real life, use the time that people would get up and move to a breakout room as a time for people to stand up, walk around and then move into the break out room.

  • If you want to prevent further changes to the map, you can always lock a step, or lock the whole map.

  • Manage the ratio between facilitators and participants. A good rule of thumb is 1 facilitator to 7 participants for a 30 minute session.

  • If you are looking for ways to allocate people to different rooms, can add topics to a map and have people add their name near each topic. They can then simply move to the relevant room, or you can allocate them.

A map is the specific activity that you want each group in the break out to do. A workspace is a collection of map activities that they can do in succession. You can create a set of activities for each group and use one link and have participants navigate through each map one at a time in a single workspace. Otherwise, you can use individual maps if it is just a single activity.

Yes, you sure can. Just right click on the map or workspace on your home page and you can replicate the map or workspace or save a map as template. 

We use minimal websockets and also don’t transfer large amounts of video and audio so our requirements are pretty low in terms of what is needed for a compatible device and bandwidth capability.

There are no specific Zoom integrations at this point.

Depending on the number of facilitators and participants, an event licence fee for 1 month starts at $60USD.  Please contact us at info@groupmap.com for more information and to get a quote.

Absolutely. You can contact our team directly who can provide you with general advice at info@groupmap.com.

We can also work in partnership with you to directly set up and run your maps on an hourly or full contract purpose.

So whether or not you want to self-service or full service, we can help. You can also check out our list of certified facilitators who can assist with helping to run your event.

Have more questions or would like a demo?

GroupMap Helps ISACA – A Global IT Summit – Turn Virtual

ISACA Virtual Event

Introducing ISACA

ISACA (pronounced “eye-SOCK-uh”) is a global, professional organization for IT audit, security, governance, risk, and privacy professionals. For more than 50 years, ISACA has equipped individuals with knowledge, credentials, education, and community to help progress their careers and transform their organizations. 

The organization has more than 145,000 members worldwide, most of whom are affiliated with a local chapter. These 220 “little versions” of ISACA are located in more than 90 countries and are run entirely by volunteers who are elected by the members of their respective chapter. 

Megan Moritz is the Director of Global Volunteer Engagement at ISACA Global, headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, USA, and oversees the teams that interact and work with all ISACA volunteers, at the chapter and global levels. 

“The chapter relations team ensures the highest level of support is provided to these individuals, equipping them with the tools and resources they need to run their respective ISACA chapter.”

The need to move to a virtual event

ISACA Global Summit A Virtual Event

Every other year, ISACA invites more than 450 chapter leaders to attend its Global Leadership Summit (GLS) to help define the strategic vision for the organization. In 2020, due to the global pandemic, the event was held virtually. 

Despite going online, ISACA’s goals for GLS remained the same:

  • make the event as interactive and as much like an in-person event as possible; 
  • obtain input from attendees;
  • ensure the most impactful ideas rose to the top; and
  • share output with ISACA’s senior leadership team and Board of Directors.

To deliver the above goals, the facilitators of the event needed a tool that would assist with the facilitation process. 

“We were looking for something that would automate a lotif not allof the processes and were also brainstorming different methods/matrices we thought would work for this particular event.”

“We wanted the tool to be highly intuitive/easy to use, secure, and web-based, so people did not need to install anything on their computer.” 

GroupMap to support ISACA’s Virtual Event

Prior to making the decision to hold GLS virtually, ISACA had already planned to use GroupMap as an effective means of capturing data and quickly collating or elevating the information as they walked tables through a facilitated process. 

The team wanted to find an effective way to collect information that was easier and faster than what had been accomplished in the past via use of flip charts, Post-It notes, scrap paper, and emails. 

“Once we knew we the event was going to take place virtually, GroupMap still made perfect sense. We know it is not limited to a virtual setting, and we are excited to use it again at a future, in-person event.”

The ISACA team requested a demo with GroupMap to explore how it could be used for digital facilitation during GLS and were immediately impressed with the functionality and flexibility of the platform. 

Successful and Engaging Virtual Global Summit 

The ISACA team attributed GroupMap’s intuitive platformfeatures that promote efficiency and accuracy, along with the organization’s personalised serviceas winning elements to support ISACA’s first-ever virtual Global Leadership Summit (that was held in August 2020). 

Over 80 easy to use and customizable templates

“From the beginning, we knew we wanted to use the SOAR matrix, but after Jeremy shared all the other options, we started to think about how we could use two different matrices to achieve an even more impressive end result.” 

“We also thought, after three days of being in the SOAR matrix, people would be ready to move onto something different.”

The team used the How/Now/Wow matrix for the last two days of the virtual event, and found it to be just as user-friendly and intuitive as the SOAR matrix. 

soar-analysis

Download report in one click 

“The most impressive part of GroupMap came with all the report functionality. We were able to generate what we needed so quickly and efficiently, it was mind-boggling.”

Their team indicated that, from a feature perspective, GroupMap’s reporting capability was their favourite. 

Share Results GroupMap Virtual Event

Personalized and helpful service 

“The willingness of the GroupMap team to guide us through things, answer questionssometimes repeatedlyand take calls at odd hours, given that one facilitator was in Chicago and the other in Hawaii, was extraordinary.”

“But the most exceptional aspect of the experience was how the GroupMap team truly wanted to understand the entire process. They wanted to make sure GroupMap was not just a tool we used, but an experience people would remember. It was awesome!”

 

Strategic Results for ISACA

ISACA Global Summit

The team commented that having GroupMap as a digital facilitation tool meant the meeting facilitators could focus on preparing and running the virtual event. In addition, attendees knew the data they entered was going to be immediately visible. This saved everyone involved an immense amount of time and work after the event concluded. 

“Instead of requesting information via email, pestering people with reminders, and worrying about people forgetting to do things, we had all the data we needed as soon as the event concluded. The participants could see and feel that, as well, which made for a very powerful conclusion.”

GroupMap’s easily downloadable report feature meant that the 475 attendees of the virtual summit were able to develop and provide the senior leadership team and Board of Directors with detailed action plans for nine key initiatives.

“These important plans will be crucial information used by the ISACA Board of Directors during their strategic planning session on 21-22 September 2020.”

“Details of which action plans/strategic items were included in both the short- and longer-term planning will be shared during a GLS follow-up session in Q4 2020, to which all GLS participants will be invited.”

Want to try GroupMap as your virtual event solution? 

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.

The Outside Develops Virtual Workshop To Help Organizations Move Forward

the-outside-team

The Outside’s forward movement

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74140227738?pwd=cmRTUEM5MXZuSk43b3FaeDIzWlFDUT09

The Outside is a cohort of talented strategists, coaches, facilitators, evaluators and project leads who help set the stage for organizations to grow, change and find a way that benefits them most. 

The team is supported by an energetic back-end team, covering legal, branding, design, communications and administration.

The Outside is committed to supporting systems change with equity at the centre. “This means that issues of race, class, gender, and other issues of power are foundational to any systems change efforts The Outside takes on.  They do this with a range of international partners and clients. 

The Outside team uses three key interdependent elements to make their work successful and unique in the field of systems change and equity:

  1. Systems Change Strategy;
  2. Participatory Leadership; and 
  3. Developmental Evaluation + Prototyping. 

Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are co-founders of The Outside and together, with their team, they’ve achieved many milestones, including:

“Our approach and business model has been developed over 20 years of working on the front line of significant change efforts. The Outside is not a service provider for the individual elements but a delivery partner in a combined approach for systems change.”

Tuesday Ryan-Hart
Tuesday Ryan-Hart
tim-merry
Tim Merry

The search for a virtual workshop solution

As a result of COVID-19, and the inability to deliver any in-person training, The Outside had to re-develop and deliver five virtual workshops on capacity building for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services Workforce Institute (NYC ACS WI), in June 2020.

The Outside virtual workshop with NYC Administration services

The Outside had been working to transform the Workforce Institute and make the child welfare system more equitable and responsive. To achieve this goal, they needed to deliver workshops was that allowed staff to:

  • get connected and see a bigger picture together, 
  • identify how we will work to support each other in a post-COVID world and,
  • to articulate some of the leadership to articulate some of the leadership opportunities that could be realized at the Workforce Institute at this challenging time. 

In combination with Zoom, The Outside was looking for a technology partner to help them deliver an engaging virtual workshop experience.

The group knew that they can do the strategic work online – with groups of almost any size – the challenge was to humanize the virtual workshops, bringing in the relationship / magic / synchronicity that happens when people meet face-to-face.

“We were looking to humanize and energize our online delivery. It was important to us to be able to create the conditions for participants to collaborate in iterative processes with each other.” 

GroupMap chosen as a virtual workshop tool 

The Outside knew that they had to be able to create powerful and practical virtual workshop at the centre of their delivery of systems change, rather than as an add on. 

The team immediately started researching platforms that would work with sophisticated and participatory process design and ended up landing on a shortlist of Stormz, Powernoodle or GroupMap

“GroupMap – Jeremy specifically – seemed to fit us really well. We deliberately look for a good fit to our mindset and approach as we talk to partners and team members. They must be curious, open, ready to learn and adapt and bring a strong skill set that meets our needs.”

“In addition to his obvious tech skills, understanding of process and general willingness to be in it with us figuring it out, it was also great that Jeremy was a point of contact. We want our team and delivery partners to reflect the type of diverse world we are working towards.”

“It also had to be simple to use. No big explanations, click here and it works. GroupMap gave us all of that! Great.”

Virtual workshop collaboration at its best!

The Outside used GroupMap to deliver a range of different processes and formats that accommodate the groups they worked with in a virtual workshop environment. 

This included breakouts, participants identifying, clustering themes and self organizing into work groups, presentation, open conversations, participants placing themselves on a model. 

In a face-to-face workshop, they would have taped out the model on the floor and asked participants to stand on it. The Outside were able to replicate this on GroupMap as an online workshop activity. 

“We used this methodology as a way to feed back from smaller breakouts and conversations and identify themes and outliers for the whole group to consider. We gave groups graphic templates to fill out to advance their work, sliders to identify where they stand on issues and proposed action plans.”

Tim Merry, co-founder of The Outside,  identified specific key features of GroupMap that made the platform highly suitable to turn face-to-face activities into online workshops that kept the human element of engagement:

  1. Collaborate anytime, anywhere: GroupMap allows The Outside’s clients to collaborate anytime, anywhere.

    When working with international clients, navigating multiple time zones, nationalities, backgrounds, beliefs, we rely on a platform that works with us. We are often diving into issues of equity – race, class, gender, power distribution.”

    “The platform we work with has to work fluidly for these types of topics to sustain momentum in an online space. If we do not address these topics in large scale systems change we will make lots of change but very little meaningful difference.” 
  2. Customised templates: Although GroupMap comes with 60 best practice templates, The Outside found the ability to build templates based on their models and experiences invaluable. This way they were able to recreate their online workshops with their own style and methodologies.

    GroupMap templates for virtual workshop

  3. Easy combination with other technology: Tim explained that one of his most favourite features is the ability to use GroupMap with other online meeting and workshop platforms such as Zoom.

    “While Zoom provides the personal break out rooms, GroupMap serves as the house in which to store our real-time thinking, ideas, and next steps.” 
  1. A GroupMap expert at hand: Having a GroupMap point of contact help adapt and design their online workshops on the fly have really benefited The Outside’s online workshops. “We were able to respond real time to changes in the direction driven by the group and our design expertise. I would recommend using a GroupMap facilitator to start with.” 

Achieving more than just online collaboration & client satisfaction 

The Outside were able to continue critical work during the COVID-19 full shut down with their partners and clients by using GroupMap to translate their face-to-face activities into online workshops. 

“Unbelievable really. We pivoted, we adapted and we came back with a solution that is GroupMap and got to work again.” 

The participants involved in The Outside’s online workshops were able to be highly engaged due to the ease of use of the GroupMap platform and various features – such as real time collaboration, ability to visually see outliers and themes and interact with each other’s ideas via comments, thumbs up or down and votes. 

Virtual workshop feature of GroupMap
Thumbs up or down voting feature in GroupMap

“The consistent feedback we receive is that people appreciate that GroupMap is user-friendly, and they really like the ability to collaborate and document in real-time. We also hear from folks that people appreciate seeing the bigger picture when we show group learning and aggregated themes / outliers and an ability to interact with each other’s posts through comments and likes, etc.” 

Lastly, The Outside identified that through GroupMap, they have been empowered to further their commitment to implement large scale systems change towards greater equity. 

“As a global consultancy we often fly all over the world burning carbon and contributing to climate change, while at the same time doing good work to help shift some of our most entrenched and stuck systems.”

“The irony is not lost on us. We had committed over the coming years to massively reduce our carbon footprint to get to a point of net zero carbon emissions. The shift to GroupMap has radically accelerated our ability to do that. What I had expected us to take 2 years to get to, we did it in two months! It has been a massive lift but a worthwhile one.”

“I believe we can now build a model going forward which will enable us to work globally and massively reduce the carbon footprint of our organization. Our team alone lives and works in 5 different countries – our clients are spread even further.”

Want to try GroupMap for your next online workshop? 

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.