Map your ideas to plan for the future

Charter School Map

Charter School Map – Used with permission

This map was created for the purpose of aligning connecting activities of the school with the collective goals of the school.  In this case, the 3 organizational goals were known at the outset (the 3 large chevrons on the extreme right) and the content was generated by the facilitating staff member during the meeting.  At the time the map was made, it was intended to generate ideas that would be compared to lived experience at a later date.  Translation: The SketchPlan was MADE to be the baseline and cornerstone for change that would come later.

What was known before mapping:

  • The goals of the school (collectively determined prior to this meeting);
  • The term available for pursuing these high-level goals (2015-2020);
  • The general characteristics of the population being served and their constituent needs.

What was not known before mapping:

  • Where staff members wanted to direct their efforts;
  • The total funding that will be available to the school (based on student numbers – fluctuates annually).

This map represents an open brainstorm event related to the beginning of a school year.  It was meant to be generative and not incredibly conclusive about who would own what.  It allowed some people to go from the meeting and set intentions and growth plans according to things that they knew would be necessary in moving towards goals.


The check-in and refinement session took place 6 months later (as planned).  The refinement that followed was informed by this map and allowed the staff to critically examine whether or not their efforts are consistent with their actual goals and the ideas generated in this session.  The check-in was conducted by me through a process called “Gamestorming” that will be the subject of a further post.  The process built upon the previous work and used the initial map as the ground for taking the conversation forward.  The advantage of having the map was that, after half a year, everyone had a clear picture of what was originally generated and discussed (even though they had surely forgotten the details).  These are some of the images from the refinement day:

Refinement Session






What is the value that this brought to the school in question?


The value they can report is as follows:


  1. Seeing Complexity at a Glance.  Most of us work in our silos without the opportunity to appreciate the complexity of everything that happens.
  2. Having a Baseline for Change.  With the SketchPlan on the wall, the group could always refer to their original set of ideas about achieving its goals.  Even as new ideas emerged, people could always SEE what they had talked about before and it served as a help to scope the conversation.
  3. Clients are the Winners! Though it might be odd to think of students and their families as “clients,” they are the clients in this context.  With a clear picture of the organization’s goals guiding the refinement process, the school is able to direct its limited resources to the greatest good to the most important place – its students!