Desired State Map              

What is the Desired State Map?

The Desired State Map is a graphic organizer developed by Garmstrom and Wellman to facilitate a visioning process with school teams. It can also be used to establish long and short term goals for the team. As a result of using the Desired State Map, teams will prioritize actions for meeting the Desired State.

How can the Desired State Map be used with your teams?

Distribute the graphic organizer to team members as a reference to the following activities. The graphic organizer can also be blown up to a large poster size and displayed in the meeting room.

Steps in the process:

  1. Identify the purpose of the meeting. (ex. Inclusion, Co-teaching, teaming, etc.)
  2. Focus the attention of the team on the Existing State. Direct members to silently brainstorm a list of which describes the current situation with regard to the topic. This could be existing programs, practices, resources, initiatives, etc.
  3. Each member should share their list with the team and assign a scribe to capture the team input on chart paper. Once they have exhausted ideas for the existing state, they should move on to the desired state. This is the “dream” situation.
  4. Using the same process, individuals brainstorm ideas which represent “the dream” or desired state with regard to the topic. Chart the teams’ ideas.
  5. As a large group or in table teams, ask members to answer the question, “What will it take to bring the existing state and desired state closer together?” Again, chart these responses for the team.
  6. Next, ask the team to think about the challenges ahead which may stall or prevent reaching the desired state. Chart these responses.
  7. At this point the team needs to generate a list of “actions” which will begin to move the team toward the desires they have listed. Often this list becomes lengthy with a variety of actions. Some items can be taken care of immediately while others will require further time and resources to achieve.
  8. The final step in the process is to prioritize the action items, beginning with those that will give the most success up front. By focusing on these items first the team will have a sense of accomplishment early on in the process. It is at this step that the action plan is developed with intermittent checkpoints (1-month, 6-months, 1- year, 3-years).

How can you implement the knowledge gained by using the Desired State Map with your teams?

Groups or teams have a tendency to get stuck describing, and therefore become focused on the existing state of the problem and never move on to a more productive conversation about what could be. By displaying the desired state map in a meeting room it serves to shape and modify the behavior of the group by focusing on the purpose of the meeting. All team members become aware of the groups’ conversation and are able to steer the focus back to the purpose of the meeting whenever individuals stray away from the purpose.

Teams skilled in the use of the map learn to articulate a positive desired state rich in detail with a clear action plan for achieving the goals of the team. They also learn to operate within the “arrow”, developing resources and actions to manifest the desired state.


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