Map Journeys Together in Online Groups

Design ideas from The PhD Project model — I

Recently, I started evolving interactions in my ADDIT Together Facebook group based on a key design insight from The PhD Project:

  • Orchestrate journey-mapping to nurture conversations and set the stage for spontaneous journey-mapping to emerge.

To implement this idea, I considered three questions:

  1. How can I orchestrate journey-mapping in my group?
  2. How can I facilitate conversations in the group?
  3. How can I support spontaneous journey mapping in my group?

Orchestrating by Projects

During the last week, I sensed an opportunity to orchestrate conversations and journey-mapping in my Growing Systems of Success (GSS) group using projects. At this stage in the development of the GSS network, I have developed relationships with enough members of the network to make this possible.

Encourage new members to become project owners

While I have interacted with many individuals through this group, I decided to encourage members who joined within the last month to lead some of the projects. I see new members as influencers who can make significant contributions as they start making sense of the GSS approach, share their stories, and ask clarifying questions. By encouraging new members to lead projects, I can reinforce the message that I see all members as potential influencers, and that their contributions are welcome.

Weekly Themes

In addition to projects, I have also chosen a theme for the week. For example, in the week of July 31, 2017, our theme is “orchestrators and influencers.” While I have a tentative list of themes, I use the conversations in the group as a guide to the selection of a theme for the following week.


I. Orchestrating journey-mapping

  • Modeling Mondays: Introduce GSS model for discussion. The model presents a combination of selected GSS elements to a specific role (e.g., influencer) and/or scenario (e.g., community engagement, entrepreneurship, parenting).
  • Talk Tuesday: Based on initial discussion of the model and prior discussions in the group, I post a conversation starter to initiate conversation.
  • Workshop Wednesday: Specific practices based on the GSS model are discussed on Wednesday.
  • Tools Thursday: The focus of discussion on Thursday is the use of manual tools (e.g., folding, post-its) and technology-based tools (e.g., Canva, Powtoon, Thortspace, Medium, and Pinterest) for GSS implementation.
  • Feedforward Friday: Identifying a topic for the following week based on current week’s conversations

Story-telling Sundays: Stories based on my experiences (self), themes emerging over time in the group (us), and current week’s discussion (now) will be published on Medium or in the GSS blog. The story continues the transition from the previous week and sets the stage for the next week’s discussions.


Nurturing Conversations

The sequence of daily themes facilitates conversations. The model introduced on Monday serves as a starting point for conversation. I consider the response to the model to pose a question for Talk Tuesday. Rather than presenting PhD Project/GSS model in a pre-determined sequence, I choose practices for Workshop Wednesdays based on the conversations on the prior days. Similarly, I organize discussion of tools based on conversations on prior days. Since there were ongoing conversations before starting this weekly sequence, we also continue discussions on prior topics. Seeding the conversation while being open to others’ contributions has helped grow conversations over the last two weeks.


Spontaneous journey-mapping

Subsets of members become more active in specific discussions (e.g., story-telling, using technology tools). Members share their work and respond to others’ work. Collaborations emerge over time as some members start working towards shared goals.

Last week, story-telling emerged as a focus of conversation based on an article shared by a member of the group. Since story-telling is an integral part of the GSS model, we started exploring this topic even though I was planning to discuss story-telling in a later chapter in the book. Hence, my original idea was to introduce story-

The PhD Project Model

Information about journey-mapping in The PhD Project is available here. The PhD Project network composition and activities are significantly different from my Facebook group. The approach that I have evolved adapts The PhD Project design to the culture and flow of conversations in