MAPS is a creative planning tool that uses both process and graphic facilitation to create a shared vision of a positive future for individuals and families. MAPS draws on people’s ability to visualize different futures and to plan for these using the focus person’s unique gifts, strengths, interests and capacities. The MAPS session will be led by two trained facilitators – a process facilitator who guides people through the stages and ensures that the focus person is at the centre throughout, and a graphic facilitator who creates a large graphic record of each of the steps in the MAP.
To facilitate a child, family, group, team or organisation in thinking together around a given challenge or issue the person centred, futures planning tool – MAP is an excellent choice. Marsha Forest, Jack Pearpoint, and John O’Brien developed this tool in 1980s some 5 years prior to their creation of the PATH process.
MAP like PATH is a creative planning tool that uses both process and graphic facilitation to create a shared vision of a positive future for individuals and families. MAP draws on people’s ability to visualise different futures and to plan for these using the focus person’s unique gifts, strengths, interests and capacities.
The MAP session will be led by two trained facilitators – a process facilitator who guides people through the stages and ensures that the focus person is at the centre throughout, and a graphic facilitator who creates a large graphic record of each of the steps in the process.
This tool like PATH, uses both process and graphic facilitation to help any group develop a shared vision and then to make a start on working out what they will need to do together to move towards that vision.
MAPs are great for threshold moments.
‘These are times when life’s changes call for new responses and it is good to re-tell focus people’s story in order to affirm their gifts, clarify what is necessary for those gifts to be well received, and make action agreements that will lead to better opportunities.’ (O’Brien, Pearpoint and Kahn, 2010)
– Is your family or team stuck? –
– Feeling lost or burned out?
– Planning a new venture?
– Setting up a business?
– Want to move on, haunted by the past – cannot get any useful dialogue about the future?
– Facing a challenging transition into a new home or work setting?
– Need to tackle a conflict situation between groups that need to work together?
– Leaving school?
– Moving out of an institution?
– Bored with annual reviews, transition plans and review meetings – or just need to make them more person centred?
– Want to find a way of making meetings and planning feel more real and engaging?
– Need an approach, which engages a young person respectfully together with his or her family and friends?
– Want the ultimate visual record of the process of a meeting, which will help everyone, keep track?
– Developing advocacy around someone?
– Want to problem solve and plan for the future of a small or large group, service or organisation?
– Need to review a PATH but want to use a different person centred process?
All of these questions might lead you to reach for the MAP process. The MAP takes a little less time than a PATH. MAPs work well at times of transition especially if the MAP is carried out at the receiving setting as this strengthens ownership. The MAP allows nightmares as well as dreams for the future to be named and also allows the story to be told. Map can be quite therapeutic but is not therapy! By allowing a person or team’s story to be told but then drawing a line around this before thinking about the future – emotional processing and containment of the past can be attempted. This combined with a deliberate naming of identity and capacity can make the approach feel more therapeutic than the PATH process which is predominantly futures focused.
MAP — Making Action Plans — is a planning process for people and organisations that begins with a story – the history. MAP has a series of empty container questions that ask a person/organisation to tell some of the milestones on their journey, so the group can get to know them, dream with them, and begin to build a plan to move in the direction of their dreams. MAPs allow the story to be told and the future nightmares held in the group’s minds to be named.
‘Maps is about listening to a person’s dreams, acknowledging their nightmares, then building a rich portrait of their gifts and talents so we are able to focus on simple daily actions that move them in constructive directions’. (Pearpoint et. al. 2010)
6 Step Process
The key outcomes of MAPS are as follows:
- A shared vision within the group of a positive future for the focus person or MAPmaker
- A commitment to moving towards this future and agreement on range of actions that begin the journey
- A clear appreciation of the focus person’s gifts and a deeper understanding of where these gifts are needed and make sense within the wider community
There are 8 steps in the MAPS process. A typical MAP usually involves a group of 5-10 individuals made up of the MAPmaker and their family, friends and other professionals and support workers who know the focus person well. MAPS lasts for 90’ to 2 hours (possibly longer with larger groups). Each step in the MAPS process has its own particular kind of conversation associated with it.
The 8 Steps and the questions associated with them are as follows:
- WHAT IS A MAP? – MAPS begins by asking the assembled group to think about what, in general, are the qualities a good Map? This step helps to set the context for the session – it is about creating a good map together for the focus person’s future journey
- What is THE STORY SO FAR? – this step asks for the story or the history of the focus person and their family from the beginning to the present day- this step of the MAP will take about 15 – 20 minutes and asks the group to describe the milestones, turning points, high and lows – the key moments – of the MAPmaker’s life so far. It is a step that invites the group to reflect on what the past can teach us about the focus person’s gifts and capacities. It chronicles what has and has not worked in the past and what the story so far tells us about things we may need to do differently in the future. This step also gives a sense of the present situation of the focus person.
- What is THE DREAM? – this step invites images and words that express the most motivating future imaginable for the MAPmaker. What key elements will give their life purpose, meaning and direction? What does the focus person really want from their life? What does the dream tell us about the MAPmaker’s gifts?
- What is THE NIGHTMARE? – this step asks – What is the worst imaginable future this focus person faces? What would make them feel trapped and powerless? No more than 5 minutes will be spend on this step of the MAPS process – its purpose is to acknowledge the nightmare, not to dwell on it. A MAP is more effective when it shows us where to avoid.
- NAMING GIFTS – this step asks the group – When is the focus person at their best? In what ways do they make a positive contribution in other’s lives? What word or image best sums up the MAPmaker’s most essential gift? What supports and opportunities does the focus person need from others in order to make this contribution?
- WHAT WILL IT TAKE? – this step asks the group – What will we need to move away from the nightmare and towards the Dream – this step asks the group to identify what they will need to begin this move– ‘needs’ may be to do with connections the group needs to make, know-how it needs to discover or resources it needs to attract.
- What ACTION AGREEMENTS can we make now? – this step asks for specifics – What will our next steps be? Who will do it? (And who will act as a support or a ‘coach?) By when will it be done? How will we check progress?
- The MAPS process ends with a round of feelings, appreciations or reflections from the group on the work they have just done together; the completed MAPS is photographed, taken down from the wall, rolled up and presented to the focus person and their family
Short video about Nottinghamshire Social Workers learning how to MAP, and their feedback.
Click here for a paper by Jack Pearpoint and John O’Brien on why they won’t produce a digital template for MAPs and PATH – makes some fundamental points about service centred vs. person centred delivery.