Maps can tell many stories and inform decisions

But they are at their most powerful when they really bring disagreement or confusion to light and help everyone to understand their role in delivering benefits.

So, the most powerful approach is always to develop the map with the right people in the room in the first place. A map you have seen develop is rarely overwhelming. 

But of course, once created there are always times when you must introduce people to that work after development. 

In these cases, planning the specific story that you want to discuss in a workshop or meeting and focussing in on that ensures you get the consideration, decision or action that you want.

Understanding which parts of the map matter to your audience and introducing them gradually based on practical application is essential. Knowing what you'd like a person to do with the information on a map before the meeting can help you find the story that you need to tell them. 

So, before any meeting, try not to think 'I am going to show someone my lovely map'. Instead, I think:

1.    What do we need to achieve by the end of the session?

For example, is the intention of discussing the map to; increase understanding of different priorities or get people to consider how closely the map reflects reality, see opportunities for more benefits, to make a decision or consider a challenge with delivering a particular outcome.

2.    What story does the map need to tell?

Knowing what you'd like a person to do with the information on a map before meeting should provide the story that your map needs to tell. This approach helps you get the consideration or the decision or action that you want from the people looking at the map and to develop the map to bring the information to life.

3.    Which parts of the map are needed for the story?

Consider which parts of the map matter most today and introduce them gradually based on what you need to decide or understand. Use the ability to hide and show aspects of the map to build understanding.

Once you have these answers you can engage people more with maps and help them to create clear stories of their own about their decisions and priorities as a result. With a stronger map, everyone will see the value of using them in decisions and work together to build clarity and ownership of benefits.