Comparing Concept Maps

Identify differences in team members' mental models
Contributed by

Greg Wilson

Published September 05, 2023

What Is Comparing Concept Maps?

This is a short whole-team activity to uncover differences in how people think about the project they are working on or the problem they are trying to solve. As the accompanying image shows, a concept map (here, of a public library, originally drawn by Amy Hodge) shows the key ideas making up someone's mental model and (crucially) the relationships between those ideas as well.

Why Do Comparing Concept Maps?

It can be healthy for different members of a team to have different mental models of the problem domain: for example, DevOps or Marketing may think about the software in a different way than Development. However, contradictions between different team members' mental models can also be a source of friction, and missing elements or connections in models can lead to oversights.

How to do Comparing Concept Maps?

  1. Each team member spends 5 minutes drawing a small concept map of what the team is working on. Team members do this separately and without looking at each other's work.
  2. On the count of 3-2-1, team members reveal their concept maps to each other.
  3. The meeting moderator then leads a discussion of differences between those concept maps.

This exercise is particularly useful for new team members at the end of their second or third week of onboarding, and again at the end of their first quarter.

Look at Comparing Concept Maps

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