Category Archives: Overview

Dialog mapping

Do your meetings suffer from lack of focus, arguing, drifting off topic, and private agendas? If not, please share with all of us how you manage.

Dialog mapping offers one way to help keep meetings focused and moving forward. I have taken an interest in it, and I can foresee using it during meetings with clients, not just to take notes for my own use, but also to help the clients reach a consensus on what messages they really want to get across.

Dialog mapping is not the same as sentence diagramming, something I never had any use for. Neither is it just a form of meeting facilitation. Unlike a facilitator, the dialog mapper is usually not leading the meeting, but is acting as a scribe whose notes can be seen by everyone in the meeting. Through a web meeting such as WebEx or Zoho Meeting, it is possible for the mapper to work remotely and have the computer screen activities visible to others.

Some people who practice dialog mapping are skilled graphic artists who make hand sketches in front of the meeting room. But for those of us who are less graphically inclined, there is a free program, called Compendium, that allows complex maps to be drawn with little artistic skill.

The value of dialog mapping is that it treats everyone’s input in the meeting equally and objectively. If people have agendas or special interests, those views are noted on the map and discussion is freed to move on. If people ramble off topic, it becomes clear quickly either through unimportant nodes being posted to the map or by the mapper having to ask for clarification about how the current topic should be represented in relation to the other meeting notes.

Contact me if you would like help improving your meetings using dialog mapping. I offer a free consultation to your next meeting between now and May 1.

First posting

This blog is dedicated to the mission of Cliff’s Edge, L.L.C., which is to disseminate information about advanced technologies. I started to act on that idea a few years ago when I was helping the Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI), which is now I-Open. We wanted to publicize how much innovative research and development was going on in northeast Ohio, which most people rarely hear about.

Yes, the local newspapers and business press cover technology, but a lot of their technology reporting is about how such-and-such advanced technology company spent so many dollars on a new facility in the region (or more recently has filed for bankruptcy). The coverage is also mostly about the larger, established companies. Important news, certainly, but it misses out on a lot of the gee-whiz factor you see when you start to learn about all the cutting-edge ideas being tossed around in this area’s research institutes and startup companies.

Unfortunately the funding for the webzine we envisioned never materialized. We did create a sample issue, and several of the writing samples on my web site are taken from that issue.

As I learn about new technologies, I hope to report on them in this blog. I can’t give the glitzy coverage that the webzine offered, because I am much more talented as a writer than as a graphic artist. I will also favor northeast Ohio, but will not limit my coverage to that area.