Posts Tagged ‘disaster risk reduction’

G1 — Group Mind Mapping

March 28, 2010

A group mind map is a picture of the consensus of a group about an idea or topic. The example below is the product of a group mind mapping exercise that I facilitated for a class of Malaysian educators in 2005 on the topic “How Do We Learn” (click on the map to see a bigger and better image in another tab). This sample mind map follows the basic structure of Tony Buzan’s mind maps: the topic is stated in the central oval and the sub-topics are portrayed as main branches and sub-branches. This mind map is an image that communicates the consensus of the group on what are the components and scope of the topic.

A group mind map is the product while group mind mapping is the process of producing it. The group process is interactive discussion to reach group decisions such as:

  • Consolidating ideas from individual members of the group
  • Clustering or re-clustering of ideas
  • Naming or labeling a cluster
  • Deciding what are the main branches and what are the sub-branches
  • Adding or removing branches
  • Collapsing several branches into one
  • Disaggregating a branch into several branches
  • Discussing differences in thinking and arriving at a consensus on the above.

What is essential in the group-drawing or “grawing” process is that the group mind map must constantly and immediately reflect every group decision. I implement this using a flexible mind mapping software (I use ConceptDraw Mindmap Professional) in my laptop which is connected to an LCD projector so that the group sees how the mind map is changed to reflect their decisions, such as:

  • Creating or deleting branches or sub-branches
  • Changing the label of a branch or sub-branch
  • Detaching a branch/sub-branch and re-attaching it elsewhere
  • Changing formats: mind map shapes, colors, text fonts, etc.

In this way, the mind map projected on the big screen in front of the group is an immediate reflection of the current thinking of the group. As the group revises its thinking about the topic, the group mind map in front of them changes accordingly. This is the essence of “grawing-and-griting”.

Last Friday, I formulated and showed the “First-Pass DRR-CCA Mind Map” below to a group of government executives from around 25 Asian countries, multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, international NGOs and various UN agency representatives (click on the map to see a bigger and better image in another tab). My purpose was to show them an example of how a single image can (a) convey the wide scope and different components of DRR-CCA or Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, (b) serve as a means for leveling off understanding of DRR-CCA among numerous stakeholders, (c) show a person any “blind spots” he may have on the broad field of DRR-CCA, and (d) provide an initial consensus that can be the basis of a knowledge taxonomy in DRR-CCA.

Because this mind map is the product of thinking alone by one person (me), this is NOT an example of a grawing-and-griting. Grawing-and-griting is the process and product of a group thinking together — the topic of this G Series of blogs.


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T1-2 Development Organizations: Supporting Desired Stakeholder Actions

October 29, 2009

Knowledge management in government and development organizations is more complex than knowledge management in private corporations. For one, development organizations have to serve and deal with many stakeholders and external actors with their many different and sometimes competing interests and operating at different levels: international, national, local and community levels. For another, market-based measures common in private corporations are generally absent in the development sector.

I am in Hanoi, Vietnam this week, interviewing managers in public, local and international non-government and international donor institutions — stakeholders of the UNISDR-Asia Pacific (UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction). My mission was to help UNISDR-AP better understand the knowledge needs of its various stakeholders in South and Southeast Asia, starting with Vietnam (a Stakeholders Knowledge Demand Assessment study).

An exceedingly simple framework for this purpose is one based on the same basic KM framework described in the F-series of my blogs:

KNOWLEDGE and other actionable information –> Desired stakeholder ACTIONS

The steps are straightforward: (a) identify and rank (by power and reach, level of trust in your relationship, etc.) stakeholders whose interests coincide with those of your development organization, (b) identify and rank (by relevance, coincidence of interests, etc.) specific stakeholder actions that you mutually desire, and (c) identify and rank (by cost-effectiveness, responsiveness to top knowledge gaps, etc.) the knowledge products and other actionable information that can enable or support those actions.

Some observations and caveats:

  • In the private sector, the desired stakeholder (=customer) action is simple: keep buying your products. In the development sector, desired stakeholder actions are multi-level and more complex. The above steps can be useful for prioritizing across various choices.
  • Enabling or supporting desired stakeholder actions is central to value creation in development organizations. This can be called “external KM” and it is often more important than, or it is what drives, “internal KM” which aims at internal or operational efficiency.
  • Advocacies of some development institutions are not readily understandable by the common layman. UNISDR advocates “disaster risk reduction” or DRR — a concept that cuts across many sectors and disciplines: project design, community preparedness, building codes, land use and zoning policies, early-warning technologies, speed of coordinated implementation across government agencies, basic risk management knowledge among the general population, revision of existing legislation and standards, etc. One cannot simply ask a stakeholder what knowledge it needs, without first assessing its level of awareness and knowledge of DRR. A stakeholder knowledge demand assessment is useful only after a stakeholder had moved from unconscious ignorance (not knowing what they need to know) to conscious ignorance (being aware of what they need to know).

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