The History Map game shows you how to map moments and metrics that shaped your organization. It’s also a great way to familiarize new people with an organization’s history and culture during periods of rapid growth.
To go through the history of the organization and identify patterns that could shape the organization's future.
Using flip-chart paper and markers, draw a continuous timeline along the bottom of several pages. Hang the paper end to end along a wall. Write the years under the timeline and include an appropriate starting point—don’t go back 75 years if you don’t need to. Choose a longer time increment, 5- or 10-year windows, if your organization has a long history, and be sure to leave enough space in between years for writing, drawing, and posting content. Leave extra space for years that you know people have more knowledge of or that were years of significant growth or change in the organization.
1. Ask each player to write his name and draw a self-portrait on a sticky note and post it on the wall above the year they joined the organization. As the participants approach the wall for post-ups, ask questions and encourage storytelling about first impressions of the company or why they joined.
2. Ask questions to the group about the following, and build the history map by plotting their answers using text and images:
- Company successes
- Lessons learned
- Changes in leadership and vision
- Culture shifts
- Trends in the marketplace
- Structural reorganizations
- The ebb and flow of regulations
- Shifts in revenue and number of employees
- Major projects, etc.
3. As you add content, refer to items you’re adding and ask open-ended questions about them to keep the conversation going.
4. Summarize the findings and ask the players what they learned and why they believe the history of an organization is important. Look for emergent patterns in the life of the organization and verbally relate the history to the future. Request the thoughts, feelings, and observations of the players.
- If you’re not comfortable drawing improvisationally, establish icons before the meeting to categorize events for easy visual recognition. (For example, you can use stars for successes, arrows for increases or decreases in revenue or employees, a toolbox for projects, etc.)
- Note when you see “old-timers” approaching the wall. The richness of their experience can educate the group, so be sure to request that they share a story. Old-timers: never map a history without them.
- Draw major events on the map beforehand to use as conversation starters.
- Use sticky notes for events where people are unsure of the dates or metrics so that you can log more accurate information later.
The History Map game is based on The Grove Consultants International’s Leader’s Guide to Accompany the Graphic History Graphic Guide® ©1996–2010 The Grove.