Two heads are better than one

As the old Ashanti saying claims. In Ghana you can find little bronze figurines with two or more heads that are made to remind people that you can reach greater heights if you put your knowledge and insight together.

Using Net-Map in the field we have seen that there are different possible approaches to putting two (or rather 17) heads together. Basically there are two options:

  • Draw individual Net-Maps with everyone involved and merge the data collected to develop a cognitive social structure (for more about concepts and procedures read Krackhardt 1990.
  • Invite everyone involved to discuss and draw a network together in a group session.

Now, how will the common network differ according to the approach to data collection? And what effects will these two approaches have to the group development and network learning of participants? Which one will make sure that the less vocal participants are adequately represented? How do you deal with contradicting opinions about who is involved, how they are linked or how influential they are?

In our work with the White Volta Basin Board (a new multi-stakeholder water governance body), we used a combined approach, where we started with individual interviews and continued with group mapping sessions. So now we can answer some of the above questions (for this specific case) by comparing the cognitive social structure (merged individual maps) with the group map.

However, this post is not intended to prescribe a certain procedure but to invite you to think flexibly about your own potential implementation. What will be the most appropriate way of putting more than one head together in your concrete situation?

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