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 to zoom in and highlight different elements of each map. The templates are fantastic for design purposes.”

Templates

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 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.

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

water-cyber-security

dr-zakhar-maletskyi-webinar-digital-facilitator

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. 

“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.

webinar polling in groupmap
Webinar Polling

“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.  

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Risk Management in GroupMap

“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.”

online-risk-assessment-workshop
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. 

Virtual Executive Event with GroupMap- from analogue to digital in 3 days

telescope-advisers

david-clarke-virtual-event-facilitator

Executive events for fast-growth companies 

Telescope Advisers is a management consultancy based in Georgia, Atlanta, with a focus on creating value and impact for fast-growth companies. Since 2000, its principal consultant, David Clark, has helped businesses and organisations around the world to bring clarity, focus and alignment. 

David outlined some of key highlights of Telescope Advisers’ work: 

  • A five year strategy for a $150m extension of the North Carolina state health system;
  • Business planning and strategies for implementation for Habitat for Humanity’s world-wide country programs, which became the most requested service by the organisation.

To deliver these results, Telescope Adviser would conduct management workshops, executive events and retreats. 

“Telescope Adviser’s retreats typically involve plenary sessions before breaking into smaller workshop groups for brainstorming and detailed discussions, captured on white boards or flip charts that will then need to be recorded or transcribed” said David. 

 

Pandemic pushed for executive event to go virtual

David had planned, months in advance, for a four day executive event involving participants from Australia, South Africa and multiple cities across the U.S. 

However, the Friday before the event was due to begin, countries, including the U.S. imposed immediate travel restrictions as part of their COVID-19 plans.

“Obviously a face to face meeting became impossible and waiting for things to improve before holding the retreat was also not an option because it would have significantly impacted the project schedule of the organisation we were working with,” explained David. 

It was decided by all stakeholders involved that the event should go ahead and be delivered in a virtual executive event format. 

“Everyone agreed on videoconferencing to deliver the event, and Zoom was an obvious choice, but the question remained on how do we manage virtual collaborative discussions and decision making process?”  

 

Creating a global virtual executive event in 3 days & counting

On the same Friday that domestic and international travel were being grounded almost worldwide, David began a frantic search for an online tool that could support virtual executive meetings and events, allow for online collaboration and is easy for everyone – with different levels of technology competence – can use. 

David recalled that his search generated many options but many were discounted because they were either too confusing to set up or complicated to use. 

“Time was ticking before the virtual executive event was meant to start on the Monday, before I recalled reading about an online brainstorming tool called GroupMap in a blogpost,” said David.

“A quick Google search, a read on the GroupMap website and an intuitive quick demo personally from its CEO, Jeremy Lu, convinced me that this is the most suitable and supported tool to run my first virtual executive event.” 

GroupMap’s features of 60 brainstorming and decision making templates (called Maps) that can be easily customised, the ability to create own maps to align with Telescope Adviser’s objectives, expectations or preferred formats were big ticks for David. 

“I was completely sold on the software and when I presented my proposal to the stakeholders, they were happy to proceed virtually on the Monday using Zoom and GroupMap,” said David.

 

GroupMap the right choice for virtual events!

“As soon as the virtual executive event kicked off on Monday, I knew we had made the right choice by using GroupMap,” David commented. 

As team breakouts occurred after the plenary session, participants started using GroupMap for brainstorming. 

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GroupMap for voting on ideas

These GroupMap features helped kept the participants on track and importantly, engaged:

  • Ability to create Workspaces by group and day and controlling access so that participants will only be able to access the maps for each workshop. This ensured everybody was on the same page for each of the virtual workshops, eliminating any confusion. 
  • Ease of use for sharing and voting that allowed all participants to input their ideas, comments, suggestions individually or collaboratively before proceeding to online voting and deciding on actions.
  • Facilitator’s ability to customise the process in GroupMap on the fly, including when participants were busy with digital brainstorming and input into the maps, so that it is possible to quickly pivot based on the situation or discussions on the day.
  • All inputs captured automatically, so there was no need to manually record information or to be concerned about not capturing an idea or losing notes. 
  • Sorting functionality made it easier for representatives of each group to use reports of prioritised ideas, actions, timelines to present when the virtual plenary session resumed.

Benefits of digital facilitation fully realised

“GroupMap literally salvaged our virtual executive global event. We would not have been able to have our workshop nor accomplished as much without this tool,” said David. 

soar-analysis-virtual-event
GroupMap’s SOAR Analysis Template

The flexible and customisable capabilities of GroupMap allowed David to run a number of proven approaches, normally done face to face, delivered online effectively. Some of these include:

  • SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results) Analysis
  • ESVP (Explorer, Shopper, Vacationer, or Prisoner) Retrospectives
  • Purpose Retrospectives
  • Understanding and Defining Purpose
  • Pitch a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
  • Impact on ideas
  • Core competencies

Using GroupMap also showed participants of the many positive benefits of digital facilitation:

  • Cost savings – As is expected with face-to-face events, there is considerable commitment of time and resources required prior and during the events. The booking of venues, travel, physical equipment hire – all adds up – and can be significantly reduced virtually.
  • Time savings – GroupMap’s automatic recording of ideas and discussions means no more hours of transcribing required!
  • Accessibility For organisations with tight travel budgets or resource constraints, GroupMap is a must-have for all virtual meetings. 

“We have always envisioned a world connected through technology. Now we know it has arrived and we are ready for this new era with empowering online tools such as GroupMap” said David.

“Next up for me is to use the software for a whole workshop and stop playing around with sticky notes. I am now a big fan of GroupMap.”

 

Want to try GroupMap for FREE? 

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.