IAF Methods

Dialogue Mapping

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
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A visual process to diagram meetings and discussions, and assure that everybody's contribution is heard and acknowledged.

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The intent of this process is to structure meeting discussions, to assure that the focus stays on the issued topics and to ascertain that all opinions are heard, and comments are focused on the statements, not on the persons who said it. It creates forward progress, especially when dealing with highly complex or wicked problems.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • A chart board and markers, or screen and bright projector.


Setting: A shared display that is visible to all participants is needed (a chart board, but preferably a screen and a bright computer projector).

Time needed: This process can be embedded in meeting discussions of any length, and also serve long-term projects.

Ideal conditions: In the room, everybody needs to be able to see the chart, or the screen, on which the map of the discussion is displayed.

Facilitator personality fit: The facilitator needs to do the mapping, and should therefore be familiar with a computer and a program that supports this method.

The procedures for this process are easy and repetitive.
Using a simple graphical "language", called IBIS (Issue Based Information System) the facilitator simply captures what has been said.
After the participants have entered the room, the facilitator needs to explain what the topic of this meeting discussion will be.
the people speak, the facilitator paraphrases and captures what has been said in a hypertext diagram, that can be seen on the screen by everyone.
With icons representing the basic elements of Dialogue Mapping grammar, being Questions (?), Ideas (light bulb), Pros (+) and Cons (-), the structure becomes simple and can be changed according to the discussion.

A free software for these maps can be found under References.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: The outcome should be a structured discussion in which the opinion of every participant is heard, and all comments are recorded.

How success is evaluated: The process is successful when the discussion was structured and has led to some kind of outcome or solution.


Source: Conklin, Jeff - 2005

Derived from: (Brain Storming) , (Issue Mapping)

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  • Could split the roles of group facilitator and person documenting the discussion, so that the facilitator can focus on the group and the other person on the mind-map or graphic documentation.

    over 2 years ago