It is possible to carry out cognitive mapping on the basis of documents and reports about, and by theperson. Group mapping is where the map is built up in front of the group based on their contributions.This can be done either manually using what we refer to as the Oval Mapping technique (OMT), orthrough using computer support, namely the Decision Explorer software. Group mapping meetings orworkshops have some initial similarities with more traditional brainstorming sessions however, the useof mapping powerfully extends their function. In addition, group mapping workshops have advantagesand disadvantages compared with individual interviews. In principle, group mapping utilizes groupdynamics and creativity and can play a role in building a team, whereas cognitive mapping in interviewsdeliberately subtracts the individuals from the group context, in order to allow the emergence of information that may be suppressed, influenced or contorted by group pressures. (Ackermann, Eden &Brown, 2004).The OMT workshop is the beginnings of a process of not only surfacing but also structuring theinformation obtained. This structuring process is designed to enable the thinking of the whole group tocohere around a set of strategic issues and their interrelationships, giving rise to an understanding of their impact and therefore priority. After interviewing and OMT exercises, the various strategic issuescollected can now set fore reviewing. It is likely that these issues have, by now, been collated, possiblyanalysed, fed back to, confirmed and clarified by the group members.The process of identifying and structuring the goals system that is emerging from an exploration of strategic issues helps clarify what the strategic direction of the organisation will be if no deliberateactions are taken to change it. Through understanding the potential impact of the issues andopportunities facing the organisation, steps can be taken to position the organisation in such a way as toresolve or capitalise upon these. As such it provides a valuable benchmark against which to consider thestrategic future. Thus, the process involves identifying the goals and understanding how they impact onone another.Causal maps have been used because they focus the attention of the group on strategic action withinthe context of purpose the casual arrows indicate means to ends or options to outcomes. While thisconsideration of the implications of statements along with reviewing options and constraints enhancesthe groups shared body of understanding, the maps that have been produced, edited and modified willremain somewhat cryptic to anyone other than those who participated in their creation. This isinevitable because the full subtlety of their meaning derives as much from the social negotiation thathas been undertaken as it does from the content and shape of the maps. Nevertheless there is greaterprecision of meaning in maps than in, for example, bullet point lists because every statement is givenmeaning by the actions that underlie it (in arrows) and the outcomes that indicate purpose (out arrows).
Advantages, disadvantages, problems and issues with Cognitive Mapping,Causal Mapping and Oval Mapping
The cognitive mapping technique is one route to beginning the process of uncovering what the groupsemergent strategy is. Cognitive mapping is used as a small part of a group process approach to strategymaking. Cognitive mapping is introduced because it can be the most effective method of surfacing thereal strategic issues that the organisation will expect to address, and so it is usually the best way of detecting the emergent strategy of the organisation. However, it is inevitably more time consuming thanstarting with a group workshop. Cognitive mapping links ideas and issues together in a logical anddynamic way, in a structure resembling a spiders web. Thus it has the major advantage of generating a