Hand Drawn Mapping

Hand Drawn Mapping

Many networks want to generate network maps but don’t have the resources and/or time to invest in computer software of web-based mapping platforms. A consultant to help you generate these types of maps can cost $5-10,000 and take up to three months to survey and map your network.

hand drawn mapping

There is another alternative and I encourage networks to try it. This is to produce simple network maps using Post It notes or by drawing on a large piece of paper.  

We have compiled a new free resource module that includes directions for 5 different processes for mapping your network.The direction sheet can help you figure out which process is best for your network.  Each set of directions also includes questions you can ask the group to help them analyze and make sense of the map or maps they generate.

The pictures below show examples of many different groups and give you a sense of how different the maps can look!

Although hand drawn maps do not have the detail and nuance of web-based network maps, they do help people visualize their network and start to take responsibility  for making their networks healthier and more effective. They can see who is missing and reach out to invite in under represented groups. They can notice if one person or a small group is too central and has become a bottleneck or gatekeeper. They can see types of groups or organizations that are not well-connected.


If you try one of the mapping processes, please let us know how it went. Did it help people in your group better understand their network?

One thought on “Hand Drawn Mapping

  1. Thanks for sharing, June!
    I find hand drawn mapping one of the most powerful tools to enlarge Network Literacy and to empower people towards network leadership. I used to regard it a disadvantage not being able to create data-driven software-made network posters, but I’ve changed my mind completely. Data-driven, software-made network visualizations give many people the impression that they have control. In my experience, you are never able to fully map out the network, because there will always be unusual suspects and there will always be change and dynamics.

    Here’s what I learned from helping very diverse groups of people, varying from students to managers:

    [1] Aim for maximum flexibility in the drawing process, so that people can adapt the diagram to new insights. Working with sticky notes for network nodes and whipeable whiteboard markers for the edges could be helpful.

    [2] I found many people having trouble taking in the “messiness” of a network drawing, especially when they weren’t part of the drawing process themselves. So in communicating network posters to “outsiders”, we have to beware of proof by intimidation.

    [3] Keep the posters for reference later on. First, it will give the more introvert network weavers the opportunity to study them later on. Second, the initial posters faciiltate learning. Discussing them a couple of weeks or months later, will reveal how much things have evolved.

    Hope it helps

Comments are closed.