The Softer Side of SharePoint – Dialogue Mapping Case Study

This is the first in a series of articles motivated by attending Paul Culmsee’s “SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture Master Class” (read my review here), and the last 1-2 years of my career knowing there are better ways to get people to work together to improve business outcomes.  When you look at utilizing SharePoint within an organization, there needs to be shared understanding around four questions, which will enable you to steer the usage of SharePoint to support the business and help drive value.

  • What is the future state you want to achieve and what does it look like?
  • Why did you choose that specific future state, as opposed to other options?
  • Who will do what to get you to that state?
  • How will you get to that state?

Within the SharePoint community, it seems challenging to find a lot of how-to’s in regards to getting the what and why answered in a more efficient and effective manner.  In my opinion, it is nearly impossible to have a long-term functioning SharePoint platform that continually helps drive business value without the “what” and “why” being transparent throughout the organization. 


This series aims at sharing real-world examples, techniques, and tools to be more innovative in helping people answer what and why.  The goal is to make it easier for you to get a shared understanding among participants on what the business wants to improve, and how to get a shared commitment on how to move forward. 

This can be as large as an enterprise wide rollout of SharePoint, or as narrow as a specific solution to be built in SharePoint, but the process of facilitating dialogue to get a shared understanding of the stakeholders is the same.  You should use different tools, or combination of tools, depending on the scope of the challenge.  

Utilizing Dialogue Mapping for a Brainstorming Session

This blog post examines an initial brainstorming session I had with a client utilizing Dialogue Mapping.  I wanted to start this series with dialogue mapping because I have seen great results with this technique for facilitating meetings, as opposed to traditional meeting minutes recorded in Word or other programs.  I highly recommend educating yourself on dialogue mapping, as it will make your meetings more effective and make the process of people coming to a shared understanding of what they are wanting to accomplish more efficient. 

The topic for the brainstorming meeting was how to engage and empower the “power users” of a new system that was going to launch in the near future within their company.  They were looking for a way to capture issues/resolutions and cut the time needed to find subject matter experts to help when problems occurred.

The image below captures the discussion (click on the image to see the full size graphic).  I used Mindjet MindManager to perform the dialogue mapping.

This was a part of the initial conversation that took place during a 45 minute meeting.  Again, this was the first meeting between the team members and we simply wanted to bring up ideas.  At a following meeting, the team began the process of narrowing down the types of capabilities they felt were needed to improve collaboration for the upcoming launch.

A couple of team members who couldn’t make the meeting were amazed how they could instantly read the entire conversation when they received a link to view the mindmap, as opposed to a more traditional “meeting notes” experience.

Dialogue Mapping Resources




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