Mapping Your Way to Successful Collaborations

  • Author: NCMM Staff
  • Date: January 24, 2018

Bernadette Wright, PhD, Director of Research & Evaluation, Meaningful Evidence, LLC - Where Research Meets Results

At the largest annual cooperative gathering between the transportation construction industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, participants played a game (for details, see the fall 2017 Highway Builder, p. 14). Like other games, it helped to build relationships in a fun way. However, this game, ASK MATT, also had a practical purpose. Facilitated by Kent Frese, the “players” were using their knowledge to map out a transportation industry challenge and share ideas to address it.

Photo shows transportation construction industry and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation leaders using the ASK MATT gamified strategic planning tool. (Picture shared with permission.)

Like a good road map can help you plan a long trip, a good knowledge map shows understanding of a complex issue like strengthening transportation partnerships or quality of transportation projects. Here are the basic steps that you and your organization or collaborative network can use to create a knowledge map for reaching your goals.

  • Add concepts to show relevant factors. A concept is anything important to your topic, such as number of passengers, employee training, or customer satisfaction.
  • Add arrows to show causal relationships. Arrows show where one thing causes more or less of something else, such as employee training causes more customer satisfaction.
  • Continue until the group agrees that you have a useful map to work with. A facilitator who is familiar with knowledge mapping can support you with creating, using, and presenting your map.
  • Use your map. Once your map is complete, the next step is to use your map to develop an action plan. Then put your plan into action and track your progress.

With a better map, you can better navigate your organization to success and make a bigger difference for people.

For more information about knowledge mapping and how it might be useful for your organization, visit the Meaningful Evidence website. Bernadette Wright, PhD is the founder of Meaningful Evidence, LLC, where she helps nonprofits to use social research and evaluation to shape effective strategies and demonstrate their value. She can be reached at



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