The Chief Engineer of Ford Motor Company and her team of 12 leaders were trying to answer the engineering question: “Should the 4-poster machine be used for diagnostic purposes only?”

A 4-poster machine is used to do random audit testing on vehicles. The issue was rather complex, and there were strong feelings on both the “yes” and “no” side of this question. These 13 leaders participated in a tailored 1-day version of my Idea Mapping Workshop. At the end of the day, the last hour was set aside to address the 4-poster question as a team. Here is the process that was used:

  1. Myself and two other seasoned idea mappers within the automotive company were the facilitators. The objective of this 1-hour activity was to identify ALL of the information the team would need to answer the question (and create a plan to do so), rather than coming to a decision at this time.
  2. After clarifying the objective, I gave them 5 minutes to create a map of every issue, question, piece of research, or any factors that would need to be addressed to answer the 4-poster question. This was done individually, so that everyone’s ideas would be included in the final product.
  3. Next we broke them into 3 groups. Their assignment was to build a group map that merged all of their thoughts from the individual idea maps. Where they had similar thoughts, they came to consensus on verbiage that would house their ideas. Any additional thoughts that emerged from the discussion were also added to the group map. Each group map was drawn on a flip chart. That took another 25 minutes.
  4. We placed the 3 completed flip charts in the front of the room. MindManager was projected onto a screen for all to see. The next 20 minutes were dedicated to merging the information from all 3 flip charts into a single MindManager map. That process continued until every detail was in the final map. Again, where there were common themes, the group had healthy discussions about making sure they were describing issues in a way that everyone understood and agreed to.
  5. The last 10 minutes were dedicated to defining their plan, in order to see this project through to completion, as well as identify next steps. This was also incorporated into the lower portion of the map.

In just one hour, this group was able to plan everything that needed to be done in order to have the data to answer the 4-poster question. They were blown away, and moreover, thrilled with the innovative outcome.

As of today, the final decision has not yet been determined. The investigation is about 90% complete, but already there is buy-in from two additional organizations that will be impacted by this decision. Not bad for a process that took just about sixty minutes!

If you’d like to download the complete example map that was used during this workshop, click here.