Can’t arrange to have everyone meet? Want input from a larger cross-section of stakeholders? No money to support the travel? Sure, face-to-face meetings are best. But there are times you’d rather meet different time-different place with the support of sophisticated decision tools.
The Concept System® is a powerful, Internet-enabled idea mapping and rating tool. It allows any number of participants from anywhere on the globe can brainstorm, sort and rate ideas from their desktops at their convenience. Applications include
- Web-based strategic planning
- Web-based project management
- Web-based surveys, focus groups, needs assessments and market research
Concept Mapping Process
Working closely, Prism and the client agree to an explicit focus for the Internet project, such as the design of a product, service or the strategic performance objectives for the organization. We then proceed in five phases.
Phase 1: Brainstorming
First we invite all participants to log on to a web site and contribute statements related to the project focus. These responses are then reduced to between 80 and 100 discrete statements related to the project focus.
Phase 2: Sorting and Rating
Participants are invited back to the Web site to sort the statements. Sorting occurs as participants use a “drag and drop” method to place similar statements into like clusters and then name those clusters. Participants also return to the Web site to rate the statements in one or more ways: for example, relative importance, current performance, urgency, etc. Scales are typically 1 to 9 or 1 to 5.
Phase 3: Analysis
Powerful mathematical algorithms analyze all sorting information and display the results in a concept map. The analysis automatically takes the sorted ideas, clusters them into concepts or groups of ideas and places the clusters on the map.
Ideas and clusters that are closer together are more similar than ones that are farther apart. In the example, the Employee Issues cluster is closer to (more similar to) Employee Relations/Communications than it is to the Databases cluster. The layers in the clusters show the results of the ratings. The example below shows the relative importance of each cluster. Here, Efficiency and Employee Issues are considered by the raters to be the most important while Community Relations is judged least important.
Results can also be disaggregated by subgroup. Pattern matching allows you to compare, both visually and statistically, two ratings from a concept map in order to explore consensus, track consistency over time or evaluate outcomes relative to expectations. Pattern matching can be used to:
- Assess consensus by comparing the views of different stakeholder groups, e.g., managers vs. line staff or one department versus another
- Complete gap analyses: for example, subtracting performance scores from importance score to determine opportunity gaps
- Match expectations for a project with the work accomplished to date
- Track the consistency of performance over time
- Assess how well outcomes or results meet the group’s expectations
Phase 4: Decision-making
Participants interpret the maps, discuss how the ideas are organized and identify the critical high priority areas. The concept map and ladder graphs reveal critical information. The group uses this critical information to set priorities, allocate resources, organize for action, and implement.
Phase 5: Project Tracking
All relevant data — users, demographic variables, sorts, ratings and measures — can be tracked throughout the life of the entire project. Over time, the group can evaluate progress on each cluster, compare that progress to cluster importance, determine gaps, and reallocate resources to ensure successful implementation.
Groups participate different time/different place in the complete life cycle of a project: from white sheet thinking to implementation and evaluation.
The Concept System® is licensed to Prism by Concept Systems, Inc.
Sample case study: Web-based Planning with Prism