Appendix 1 — The “Formalities” of Mapping

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This Support section includes the following:

• Getting the wording of statements right

• Getting the direction of the arrow (causality) right

o Being clear about options and outcomes, means and ends, etc.

o Dealing with generic statements appropriately

o Dealing with assertions and facts

o Dealing with feedback loops (see also support 1)

• Goals, negative goals and constraints

• Doing mapping in interviews

• An overview of the mapping hierarchy (encompassing goals, issues, competencies,

options/actions) when used for strategic thinking

Wording Statements (nodes)

• Make statements action-oriented by including a verb — without doing violence to

what was said where possible

• Aim for six to eight words as this will ensure that each statement is discrete and yet

descriptive

• If there is likely to be ambiguity then consider including “who,” “what,” “where,”

and “when” in the statement (although this requirement can make the statement too

long)

• Exclude words such as “should,” “ought,” “need,” etc. (as this makes it more

option-like)

o E.g., “we ought to hire more salesmen” becomes “hire more salesmen”

• Avoid using “in order to,” “due to,” “may lead to,” “as a result of,” “through,”

“caused by,” etc., as these imply two statements linked together by an arrow

• When a statement includes several considerations, as for example: “postpone

writing mapping book, several articles and book chapters, and other books,” then

it is important to decide whether the statement should become several statements

o Ask whether:

• They each have different consequences

• They each have the same importance

• They each might involve different types of actions/explanations in order to create

the outcome

o Thus, in the example:

• Writing articles may be more important than books or chapters, in

which case the statement should be separated into two parts

• Postponing the mapping book may have different consequences

because it involves other colleagues, in which case it should be

separated

• Writing other books may require large chunks of time whereas others

can be done using small intervals, in which case it should be a separate

statement

o Therefore, watch the use of “and” as this might suggest two options rather

than one

• e.g., split “increase and improve services” into “increase services” and

“improve services” as these might lead to different outcomes and have

different explanations

Using Contrasting Poles in a Statement (node)

• The meaning of a statement is often best discovered by listening for the contrast

o For example, the meaning of “warm rather than hot weather” is different from

“warm rather than cold weather,” “buy two computers rather than six

computers” is different from “buy two computers rather than hire more staff,”

etc.

o Difficulties arise when each contrast is an option in its own right, and there

might be several options. When the contrast illustrates meaning by suggesting

a possible alternative outcome, circumstance, etc., (often contrasting

past with now, past with future, now with future) then use the contrast as a

part of the statement; when the contrast is a clear option then make it a

separate statement (sometimes linked without an arrowhead to other options)

Getting the Link Right: Causality

• The direction of arrow should indicate direction of causality and influence: means

to ends, options/actions to outcomes.

• One person’s means can be another person’s ends

o E.g., A→B might be correct for one person but B→A might be for another

• For example: “turning things around means we have to win every battle

in the next five years” may be coded with “winning every battle” as the

desired outcome from “turning things around,” or alternatively “winning

every battle” is required in order to “turn things around,”

depending on the desired ends of the interviewee.

• But, bear in mind some “objective” truths might be subject to debate

o E.g., “putting more policemen on the beat will reduce crime” may be an

objective truth to one person, nevertheless another person might argue the

objective truth to be that more crime leads to more policemen on the beat.

• Sometimes A→B can be treated as so consensual that it need not be debated, e.g.,

“obvious” arithmetical relationships.

o More sales causes more sales revenue

• Means to ends are most difficult to judge when considering a hierarchy of criteria,

values and goals

o E.g., is “be unhappy and upset much of the time” more disastrous than “crawl

into my shell and give up”? That is, does “be unhappy” lead to “into shell”

or vice versa? This can only be judged by the person being mapped, or this

choice must be open to consideration.

• It sometimes helps to work with a hierarchy of goals, such as “objectives”

lead to “goals” which lead to “ideals or values.” So, objectives

are shorter term and more easily measurable; whereas goals are

expressions of desirable longer term outcomes; whereas ideals or

values are unlikely ever to be attained but guide purposeful behaviour9.

• Avoid mapping time sequences that are not causal relationships (as this will

produce flow diagrams or process maps that are not amenable to the same sort of

analysis or meaning as cause maps).

• Avoid duplicate and double-headed arrows

o Ensure that the map does not contain duplication of links

• For example, where the map shows A→B→C→D along with A→C and C→D and

A→D — ensure that the latter three links show different causal chains (through

additional material)

o Avoid double-headed arrows as these are implicit feedback loops suggesting

either:

• Muddled thinking that can be resolved by determining means and ends

• A legitimate feedback loop consisting of additional statements that

might provide more intervention options

Dealing with Generic Statements

• It is best to ensure that all members of a category are subordinate to the statement

expressing the generic category

o For example: “buy more saucepans” should in most circumstances lead to

“buy more kitchen equipment” — that is, the specific leads to the generic

• When a sub-category has different consequences from those of other members of

the category, then it will need its own out-arrow to other consequences (along with

the link to the generic).

• Sometimes the generic statement may not be necessary because there are no

specific consequences that follow from it, rather they all follow from specific subcategory

statements.