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 Facilitative Leader & Instructor
Biographic Sketch — Terrence Metz Since the end of 1999, Terrence Metz has been a founding principal partner and vice president at Morgan Madison & Company. For over twenty years, through professional and academic endeavors, Terrence has focused on improving group decision-making. His experience has proven that two important components to effective group decision-making are: 1. Higher quality information assures higher quality decisions, 2. Properly managed conflict, generates more “options” to consider—
and groups with more options are proven to make higher quality decisions. Terrence is passionate about using and teaching the FAST Facilitative Leadership Training technique so that people and teams make more informed decisions. Terrence is the lead instructor and primary curriculum developer for MG Rush Performance Learning. He earned his Six Sigma Green Belt® from Motorola University and wrote most of the existing FAST curriculum. Terrence 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. He introduced the concept of holism to the field of structured facilitation as a method for keeping discussions on target and aligning deliverables throughout an organization. Since 1999, Terrence has taught over two hundred classes. With a Baccalaureate in Science from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and a MBA from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on product/ process development and innovation. Terrence has a P&L background in capital goods markets with highly engineered-products and services (eg, Honeywell). He is an expert group facilitator, instructor, and developer of workflow processes and Voice of the Market inputs that accelerate commercial success. His engagements have included strategic development, business planning, problem-solving, continuous improvement, organizational design, process design and improvement, customer cognitivity workshops, and market-based product development and launch. His book "Change or Die: The Business Process Improvement Manual" from CRC Press was published internationally in 2012. Terrence completed additional graduate work in inter-cultural decision-making processes at Marquette University, is a former board member of the Product Development Managers’ Association, and a long-time member of the IAF (International Association of Facilitators), MFNA (Midwest Facilitators Network Association), TMAC (Technology Management Association of Chicago) and WFS (World Future Society). Most importantly, Terrence is an effective listener and equally adept at teaching FAST classes as well as galvanizing consensus around complex issues for organizations and groups.

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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