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What Is GCM?
Group Concept Mapping (GCM) is a process that seeks and embraces the range of opinions of stakeholders related to an issue. Managers and researchers use it to guide planning, implementation, and evaluation where many individual viewpoints should or must be included in developing the solution. Using GCM, an organization can take the ideas and opinions of many individuals and create a “map” that reveals the relationships among those ideas and opinions, eventually facilitating a decision or direction that considers them all.
Unlike some approaches to decision-making, GCM is a highly participatory method that actively values the voices of participants. It asks people what they think about a specific concern or issue, how they think about it, and what they value. The methodology allows the group to arrive at a shared vision and understanding — clearly describing the group’s thinking and reducing the influences that sometimes shape a decision. At the conclusion, all participants in the process know that their ideas and values helped to shape the final decision, whether or not that decision is exactly what they would have recommended on their own.
How Does GCM Work?
At a high level, group concept mapping is a mixed methodology that helps a group identify an issue and contribute views and values about that issue. The process includes analysis and interpretation of the participant responses.
The group concept mapping process has seven steps.
As you can see from the diagram, the first step of the process is planning: identifying participants, and developing a central question, called the “focus prompt,” that will be used for the project.
Participants provide responses to the focus prompt in the idea generation, or brainstorming, step. Then, during data development, the full set of ideas is curated to form a smaller set that fully and adequately represents the full range of focus prompt responses. Each individual participant then sorts the ideas and rates them, in the organizing step. The sorted and rated responses are the basis for the “data set.”
In the analysis step, the sorted data is used to construct a conceptual model, a map, of all idea and how they are related in meaning. This map reveals the relationships among the responses, based on all participants’ views, facilitating a decision or direction that considers them all. During interpretation, participants review the results and interpret the map and outputs. In the use step planners decide how to apply what they have learned.
GCM captures group wisdom from people’s ideas, perceptions, and values.
When Do You Use GCM?
Groups that are solving a problem, developing an innovation, creating a strategy, or building a program use GCM. They can use the map that emerges to plan purposefully and evaluate efficiently and effectively.
- theory development
- decision making
- strategic, operational, program planning
- measurement and scale development
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