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Back at the beginning of December I was lucky enough to attend the SharePoint governance and information architecture master class. One of the key techniques I’ve been investing my time learning since is the IBIS dialogue mapping. Dialogue mapping is a technique which helps you facilitate a meeting and document the discussion. In an easy to follow notation you can record the questions, ideas and supporting/undermining arguments for an idea.

Getting started

So following Paul’s advice I began getting used to just mapping syntax and keyboard/mouse actions by mapping some of the SharePoint online event videos. There are four main notations to get your head around, Question, Idea, pro supporting the idea and finally con undermining the idea. The syntax is fairly straight forward, an idea responds to a question and an idea can have pros, cons or further questions.

As you become familiar with the interface you’ll find yourself being faster and faster at recording the major points and information into the map.

Get in front of a friendly audience

So after spending several weekends ‘geeking’ it up mapping videos I could pause and replay the next step was to try the technique out in the wild so to speak. Before trying to facilitate a design meeting I chose to map one of the development teams scrum retrospectives.

As a fairly well structured meeting type it was a nice introduction to live mapping. The team were understanding at my pauses as I attempted to capture the main points. What was really interesting was that following the meeting the map demonstrated where the focus of the meeting had been. As the notation doesn’t include who made comments it allows repeated information to be overlaid reducing the noise factor. The sprint under analysis had suffered from lack of communication and testing and this ‘feeling’ by the product owner had been supported by the team as the map became fuller. Large branches followed questions and ideas around improving the testing and communications around delivery.

After a couple of more attempts mapping internal team meetings it is becoming more and more valuable as a way to record discussions and be able to analyse outcomes post meeting.

Next challenges

Next up will be to get in front of some design and workshop based meetings where I can also begin to facilitate the meeting while mapping. As I can really see the value in the dialogue maps I’ve decided to attend the IBIS Dialogue mapping master class being run by Paul towards the end of February. The course outline looks to build on the information taught in the governance master class and provide more hands on and depth to the technique. For anyone thinking of attending the next Governance master class I would recommend considering also attending the IBIS master class.