Are you like me, when you try to explain something complicated (or exciting) to others, you quickly grab pen and paper and draw some weird picture or graph that makes absolute sense to you, helps you structure your thoughts and maybe (or not) helps the other person understand what you are trying to say?
The other day I realized that Net-Map is often just that, but taken to a higher level of general understanding and inviting others to co-doodle with you. By providing some basic steps to the doodling: first actors, then links, then motivations, then influence, Net-Map helps keeping the complex story on track and allows everyone to chip in and add their contribution.
As a facilitator some of my favorite Net-Map experiences (both with groups and individuals) were when the people I worked with just told their story like they would to a friend and I visualized this flow by writing the names they mentioned in the unfolding narrative on actor cards, sketching out the relations as they told me what happened. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy Net-Mapping so much, because it can feel like you are just two people having a conversation – and not like being an interviewer who interviews someone or a person with a method which dominates the interaction (e.g. a closed ended questionnaire, where, every time the interview partner wants to tell you their view or experience, you have to say: “please just rate it on a scale from 1-5”. Or “possible answers are yes, no, don’t know”).
I guess that has something to do with respect: If I ask you to take some time out of your busy day to answer my questions, I want to show you I am really interested in your (own) answers and want to learn something I didn’t know before. I know that for a lot of quantitative analysis you need standardized questions and answers and it is great to be able to say something statistically significant about things… but I personally just prefer a situation where I can really connect with the other person and listen to what they have to say.
Filed under: musings