Ripple Effect Mapping

Because networks often engage many people, some of whom are only occasionally involved, it is harder to track the impact of the network. One solution to this might be the use of a technique called Ripple Effect Mapping.

Historically this process was done during a face-to-face session but I believe it could also be done virtually using a whiteboard and virtual PostIt notes.

The first step is to identify the scope of the mapping. Are you identifying impact of all of your network’s activities or only a specific initiative such as an Innovation Fund?  

The next step is to  gather information. This is generally done at a convening, though that convening could be a session. People are put into twosies (if virtually, they are moved into breakout rooms of two people). The twosies are given a framing question or questions:  

  • How has (this activity, this network) made a difference in your work, your community or yourself?
  • Have you seen unexpected results?

Each person in the dyad interviews the other and records the answers.

The group reconvenes in a large group. Each person then shares their story (with the partner adding details as needed). 

Then there is a second go around where people answer the questions:

  • What happened as a result? And, what difference did it make?
  • Did you see this type of activity spread throughout your community, to other communities, to other networks? 
  • Was it modified in any way?

The answers to these questions can be added as additional ripples.

Here is an example of a map:

Once the map is completed, the group is encouraged to notice all the impacts and celebrate!  The map can then be converted into lists of impacts to be shared with funders or the public.

Several resources that I found helpful in learning about ripple mapping are:

If you use this process, please share the results with us in the comments section below.

Featured image by Joe Vickers

5 thoughts on “Ripple Effect Mapping

  1. Hi June,
    Thank you very much for sharing this valuable and inspirational content.
    In Berlin, at Factory co-working space, on the 25th of February, I am organizing and leading an event about the importance of UX research in Platform ecosystem design. It would be very interesting if we could talk further about new collaborative approaches and narrative needed to define a purpose for communities of users. In the event I aim to share tools such yours, that could support continuous improvement. Look forward to hearing from you!

  2. Hi June,

    We shared our network evaluation in the FB group a few months ago, but FAC Net has done a REM process with the Washington Extension folks. One of our state network leads has modified the process and used it in their network to capture impacts around specific topics in the network to tract impacts on the ground of sharing learning in the network. I do think, after going through it twice, in-person is probably best but I could see it being done virtually for a small group. For us, the process of doing the mapping was the most valuable – network members could see how they were impacting each other and help track what lead to what else down the road. Our blog post from October covers some of our main takeaways from it in case other networks are interested:

    Additionally, we had a few good lessons learned I would be happy to share with other network coordinators.

  3. Wonderful comments Paul! We are planning a session in March to explore this topic more. Maybe you could share how the Liberating Structures activity could work in this process.

    Also could you share how we might operationalize the spreading from core to periphery? Super important.

    1. hi June,

      I’d love to contribute to your March session (on Zoom, I suppose). I have been building quite a lot of experience using 1-2-4-all in real-life sessions. I do not know yet how Liberating Structures could work in video conferencing (Zoom) contexts. Would be cool to find out.

      Regarding spreading:
      I think we’re all struggling to show others (e.g. our funders or our superiors) the impact of Network Weaving activities. I suppose one of the problems is that in network actions, cause and effect are often seperated by either time of space in an unpredictable manner. So today’s action could make an impact six months from now (but we do not know for sure). Or, an action in the Amsterdam cluster of the network could have an impact in Lisbon (or, somewhere else).
      So what we need, is not only to discover the amount and diversity of impact, but also some sense of location of the impact.

  4. Thank you for sharing this evaluation tool, June!
    Perhaps you could make the “information gathering” step even more effective by doing it according the Liberating Structure 1-2-4-all (see )

    The map you’ve shown visualizes the amount and diversity of impact. I wonder if we could take this a step further: I’d love to actually be able to see the spreading of activities and their effects, e.g. an activity in the core of the network having an impact in the periphery.

Comments are closed.