How to Facilitate Building Perceptual Maps

Illustrative Perceptual Map


To help a team compare and prioritize its options using visual display support in a directional, perhaps less precise, manner.


To stimulate discussion and solicit supporting views about both why options should be placed in specified areas and which options may demand more or less urgent attention and care.

Method One

After you have helped the team build their options (eg, actions to take), consider arraying them along the Payoff Matrix dimensions that include: 1) Ease of implementation, and 2) Impact of the solution.

  • If you have dozens of options, consider using a large wall display.
  • You may want to use Post-It® notes because discussion will lead to moving around (relocating) some of the options.
  • Be careful to know how to illustrate and define “High” and “Low” and to the extent possible, draw from your personal metaphor or analogy (Agenda discussion point in the FAST curriculum).
  • Use active listening and challenge frequently to discover evidence that can be used to support beliefs and claims.
  • The illustration below is called a “Two-by-Two” although it can be simply modified by adding a moderate dimension, making it what others call a “Nine-Block Diagram” (or “9 Block Diagram”) shown at the bottom.
  • In Six Sigma, comparisons are made of the CTQs (Critical to Quality) with the improvement or weighting factors.

Illustrative and Generic Payoff Matrix

Method Two

You can also facilitate building a perceptual map by creating the following:

  • Identify two dimensions that most affect the decision or situation.
  • Typically array from low to high but be prepared to define what is meant by “Low” or “High” (see PowerBalls).
  • If you need to use a third dimension, such as quantity, then consider varying the size of the symbol by cutting the Post-It notes so that width, height, or shape equates to the third dimension.
  • You might consider using different colored Post-It notes that relate to a third dimension such as large, medium, and small.
  • The alternative shown next is the Nine-Block Diagram that provides an additional, third sector of information contrasted to the Two-by-Two up above.

Nine Block Diagram

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

About Facilitation Instructor
President of Morgan Madison & Company, through professional and academic endeavors, Terrence has focused on improving group decision-making quality. His experience has proven that: 1. Evidence-based information assures higher quality decisions. 2. Properly managed conflict, provides groups with more “options” to consider —
 and groups with more options have been proven to make higher quality decisions. With a Baccalaureate in Science from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a MBA from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, Metz’s core competency has focused on rhetoric: the process of adjusting ideas to people and people to ideas. He is a founding principal partner and president at MG RUSH and a certified Six Sigma Green Belt® from Motorola University. CRC Press, part of Taylor and Francis, publishers since 1798, published his recent book, “Change or Die: Business Process Improvement Manual”. Terrence introduced the concept of holism to the field of structured facilitation as a method for keeping discussions on target and aligning deliverables within and throughout an enterprise. As a public speaker and instructor, he strives to reduce ‘noise’ and ‘distractions’ so that groups and teams can be more successful. Terrence is passionate about using and teaching the FAST Facilitation technique so that people and teams make more informed decisions. He made the FAST technique more robust by adding and enhancing decision-making tools such as PowerBalls and the FAST quantitative SWOT technique that is used worldwide by Fortune 1000 companies. Since 1999, Terrence has taught over three hundred classes.

One Response to How to Facilitate Building Perceptual Maps

  1. Pingback: How to Facilitate Building Force-Field Analysis « Facilitative Leadership & Facilitator Training

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