Wayfinding for Groups: Seven Questions to Accelerate Progress


It is the term used to describe the various ways that cities, buildings, parks, transit systems, and more help people find their way and avoid getting lost.

I find that more successful organizations pay great attention to wayfinding. Doing so usually accelerates group progress and often increases the satisfaction of group members.

During the early stages of every new group—a committee, a staff project team, a board, et al—a handful of basic wayfinding questions need to be answered.

They are not particularly sexy.
They are not particularly challenging.
They are not difficult to answer.

Yet they often go unasked and unanswered, essentially leaving those convened to accomplish something to feel rather lost in how to do so.

That's a huge missed opportunity.

When you next convene a group of people address the following, at minimum:
  1. What are we here to do and how does it relate to other efforts?  Clarify purpose and overall strategy.
  2. How will we know we are successful? Explore desired results, key metrics for progress, and feedback opportunities.
  3. Who’s here to do it (background info), what can they contribute, what are their interests, how to they engage?  We don't trust people we don't know.  Help us get to know each other.
  4. How does work usually get done?  Review structure, legal obligations, processes, systems, and the range of permissions for people to exercise initiative.
  5. What agreements do we need to make with each other?  Calibrate individual preferences with group and organizational needs.
  6. What relevant “insider” info will help me contribute more effectively? Help orient me to the existing culture, relevant historical data/efforts related to our current charge, and available resources we can access.
  7. What should I do between meetings?  I'm here to work.  What should I do besides showing up for meetings?
Want to go to the head of the class?  Share all of this info prior to the first meeting being convened.  Or better yet … as a part of the recruitment process to make sure you are attracting the right candidates.

This orientation shouldn't be tedious and complex, but it should be done.  Consistently.

What other core questions would you add to this list?