How to read a map?


We’ll show you how to properly read the map and uncover how much information is hidden beneath the surface in every single map.

The following map that we call “current frequency of communication” simply shows us how often people talk to each other, or in workplaces, how often they communicate with each other about work related topics.

The basics:

If someone is red, it means that they have received higher scores (meaning higher communication frequency) from others, blue means lower scores. Key word here is “received”, how high a person is on the map is determined by the scores others have given them.

Mutual distance between people denotes mutual scores. The more people communicate with each other, the closer they are to each other.

Now, those are the basics covered. There are, however, many invisible and hidden things we can find in a map, even in a very simple map such as this one. Let’s go through a couple!

  1. Emilia – Everyone in the team communicates with Emilia most frequently. What could this mean? For example, if this was a workplace, Emilia could be the coordinator or team leader.
  2. Bradley and Chris are probably a team and share a lot of work together. They very likely report to Emilia together.
  3. Jennifer’s position tells us that either she works alone, maybe her work isn’t very related to everyone else’s work (i.e. IT person in a team of consultants). Does this tell us that her position is wrong and she communicates too little with others? Absolutely not, maybe she is exactly where everyone needs her.
  4. Kit is close to Emilia which indicates they share a lot of work, at the same time Kit is pretty low on the map, which means that he’s probably Emilia’s assistant. Or he could be the company owner that doesn’t often drop by but only checks on things through Emilia.

Deeper interpretations:

Now let’s look at the team as a whole. Emilia is obviously very very busy communicating with everyone. What could be the cause of this and what are the possible impacts?

Everyone could be communicating strictly through Emilia, even in cases where they aren’t reporting to her. For example, when Chris and Bradley need to tell something to Jennifer, they go through Emilia (“Hi, Emilia, could you please tell Jennifer to send us the reports by the end of the week?”).

This could cause Emilia to get overloaded with communication and become a bottleneck in the company. If this issue got fixed, Emilia would go lower on a map (yellow), possibly closer to Kit, Jennifer would go higher and closer.

This is one of many interpretations of a sociomap, the main point is that a sociomap gives people a perspective on how they communicate with each other. It encourages discussion about things that could always remain hidden. It encourages people to evaluate their relations, talk them through and improve them.