In any organization, especially at meetings, it is a usual occurrence for participants not to arrive at a common consent. Participants may not agree with everything and may seem stuck to their views. In such cases, the technique of dialogue mapping comes in handy. In this technique, the ideas and the accompanying remarks of all the participants are recorded in a clear manner in the form of a diagram. In this way, participants not only derive a sense of a common bond, but this technique serves the basis for easier collective thinking and facilitates positive cooperation.
Dialogue mapping is very effective in case of solving complex problems where there are different presentation of facts, data and thoughts. But when these are recorded, participants have a clear overview which then helps them to identify the bottlenecks so that special attention can be given to the problem, and arrive at a common solution. The human brain can only record a limited number of ideas. It is a human tendency to select a preference and forget the rest of the ideas. But the ideas that are forgotten can actually be very helpful and appealing too. By recording all the ideas, a clear overview can be created by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of all the ideas. All participants are encouraged to discuss all probabilities and come up with good solutions. The technique offers a broad range of solutions. So in a way, dialogue mapping can help participants to reach at a common consent and pave the way for quick, sound and joint decisions.
As the discussions commence, the diagram expands and grows with each participant contributing with their ideas and to the discussion. Since all the ideas are recorded, the diagram is more or less a diagram mapping of a group memory. When all the ideas are incorporated into the diagram, there is no need for participants to voice their viewpoints or express their opinions again. Participants are made aware that each and every viewpoint is valuable. Dialogue mapping is a structured and non-linear approach towards problem solving. In this method, since each idea is taken into consideration, the participant will be positively contributing to the process. And when all the participants work towards a common goal, then taking corrective action becomes easier. Group dynamics increase and joint responsibility is taken. Collective thinking is encouraged and there is better synergy between the participants. Dialogue mapping promotes mutual understanding and respect for each other’s opinions.
The three key elements in dialogue mapping are – facilitator, shared display, and a ‘graphical’ language called issue based information system (IBIS). In shared display, the use of PowerPoint presentation is strongly discouraged. Instead, whiteboard, flip chart, or computer projection is used to visually illustrate the different viewpoints of the participants. In IBIS method, the emphasis is on the questions based on which interactions take place. In such an instance, new questions, arguments, assumptions etc. are created which may cause the context to shift and more ideas and solutions to generate as a result.