i-Three Issue Corps – Working Smarter With Concept Mapping

Being selected to be part of the i-Three Issues Corps brought some trepidation. How would we be innovative? How would our project show impact? Fortunately, thanks to the i-Three Corps leadership, we learned new tools and strategies to tackle the challenges we face as extensionists. One example that really moved our project team forward was the concept map expertly proposed by Dr. Paul Pangaro in San Antonio at the Design-a-thon.

Susan and Mark using sticky notes and markers to make a concept map on paper.
CFW team working on the concept map at the design-a-thon in San Antonio. Photo by Robert Bardon.

Paul is a master of design thinking – an innovative process combining methods from engineering and design with business thinking, the social sciences and arts.

After a few attempts at defining our problem systematically on paper, with markers and stickies, we cut through the fog to arrive at the key points of attack that would lead to success.

What a productive exercise! The process allowed us to collaborate as a team, to brainstorm, think innovatively, understand our project in greater depth and most importantly, identify the gaps in our model – places we need to focus effort to make our project a success and see impact.

Map of project inputs, outputs and actions.
Draft of the concept map for the Climate, Forests and Woodlands project. Photo by Susan E. Moore.

We didn’t do it alone — reviewers from another i-Three Corps team enhanced what we thought was a finished product. Our trip to the eXtension i-Three Corps Issues Teams Design-a-Thon at NeXC 2016 was a highpoint in our nearly two-year process of innovation and impact with the Climate, Forests and Woodlands (CFW) Community of Practice. We had the issue of climate change clearly in our sights, now we can strategically address the key areas where we can actually make a difference in the lives of our clients. Our team sends a shout-out to Paul, to the eXtension staff, to the other i-Three Corps Issues Teams – thanks for everything, we could not have done it without you!

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