Personal Maps: Getting to know family & coworkers for conflict resolution

- Practices & Exercises

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by Durgesh Kumar Mishra

I am an agile coach by practice and visualize everything in an agile way where happiness and culture are major ingredients. Happiness at work or at home is a win-win situation. Happy, engaged people are healthier, more productive, they have more ideas and are more likely to contribute over and above the responsibilities of their job and perform their best. So, if your team/family is happy, you and others around them are more likely to be happy too.

Last time I brought home the Management 3.0 practice of the Happiness Door to get better feedback from my son and to make him feel like I was listening to his day, even when I couldn’t always be home on time to have the conversation in person. 

Problem Statement: 

OK so my daily job was to check the door and try to solves or help my kid and make him happy/delighted. Other day I found few interesting and a couple unsavory stickies on the door.

“Daddy put me in a different school.”

“Mom didn’t let me go out with my friends.”

For me these stickies were very challenging to read and I thought of having a one-on-one conversation with my kid and wife so that I could better understand their problem. But I couldn’t make any decisions because I didn’t wanted to be biased in my decisions at home with my family.

Initial Observation:

  1. Why did my kid want to move out to different school? We thought it was the best school in our area.
  2. Why didn’t his mother let him go out with friends?

So, this led me to have a conversation and activity with both my wife and my kid. I somehow convinced both of them on experimenting with the Management 3.0 practice of Personal Maps.

  1. My wife would create Personal Map for my kid, in order to know more about his areas of interests which we may not be aware of.
  2. I would create a Personal Map for my wife, to know better why she gets angry at him/us and get into a command-and-control situation.

Both the maps would help me come to some conclusion why their behavior is different or their expectation aren’t matching up. The first map would help me and my wife understand why “Daddy put me in a different school” came up. The second would help me understand what my wife’s expectation was from kid and myself. 

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I adapted the typical bubbles of the Management 3.0 personal map to fit the circumstances and age group for hopefully a more positive outcome.

  • Personal Map for kid: Hobbies, Friends, Home, Education, Teacher
  • Personal Map for spouse: Family, Friends, Work, Values, Goals


I started with the personal map for my wife and my kid by asking them questions and was very surprised by looking at the map.


Rules for Personal Maps

Both my wife and kid loved this exercise and nowadays if they find anything wrong with their friends or relatives, they start sharing the benefit of personal map in life and its value to others. Below are the outputs of my experiment. This experiment may not be exactly like the one described in #Workout, but it helped me a lot with little or no modification which is why I am very much fond of Jurgen’s workout book.

  1. Daddy put me in a different school. After the personal map exercise and quick discussion on each area of interests, I discovered why he wanted to move to different school. He was not feeling well-treated by his school teacher in skating class once and was been scolded in front of his classmates and he doesn’t feel comfortable going to that class back again. This was really surprising for me because in school, as per government rules, no teacher is allowed to yell at the kids. This became an action item for me. Another interesting part I noticed from systems thinking is that because of one component we can’t blame the whole system. It helped me identify the component that disturbed him and put him in a situation where he started blaming the whole system. I got an opportunity to talk to his teacher, address the situation, and now my kid is comfortable again. He even got third place at the school competition.
  2. Mom didn’t let me go out with my Friends. After personal mapping for my wife, I found she is very much concerned about kids and worries about anything wrong happening, which is a natural behavior of all moms when fathers are out at work. She did not allow him go out alone because she feel like this is not a good age for him to go alone outside, without a parent. (He is eight years old.) I also came to learn why she gets frustrated and sometime behaves differently with the kids or with me. Below were some of the points I feel like missing which drives her behavior which came out after personal map and discussion: 
    1. She spends most of her time at home with kids. 
    2. Sometimes the two kids act up and Mom needs a break. 
    3. Expects some family fun and outing weekly or monthly. 
    4. Looking for a helping hand which I believe I should concentrate on.

The above exercise helped me understand the behavior and drivers. I felt like this was an experiment we could do with anyone around us to get to know them better and to try and understand what drives their behavior. Once I know my family members’ interests I was able to hit the points and trying to maintain them so that they can feel better and happier. Also, my own behavior certainly changed as a result.


To continue this motion of workout I did think of adding in some more interesting stuff from workout like the Kudos Box. Kudo Box for my wife is themed “Angry Birds” and one for my kid is the “Monster Kudo Box.”

Mapping this experiment with my workplace:

The above experiment is completely the continuation of my previous experiment. Like the last one, I felt like this experiment would also be very helpful at my workplace.

The Personal Map exercise has helped me a lot in achieving the below core areas:

  1. Behavioral aspects of people.
  2. Thinking at a system level and not just at components.
  3. Improved communication and fun at work. (Or home.)
  4. No more fear of conflict within team members.
  5. Know each other’s behavior drivers and act accordingly.

Although, this may be not be exactly what was supposed to be achieved by this management practice, the results are great and I loved this experiment both at workplace and at home. It helped me a lot and would like to thank Jurgen for such an interesting workout.

Have you brought happiness at work exercises home? Or perhaps you’ve brought some lessons your family taught you to the office? Tell us below!


Photo: Annie Spratt (Unsplash)

2 thoughts on "Personal Maps: Getting to know family & coworkers for conflict resolution"

  • David Calloway says:

    I stumbled upon this site searching for “Improv and Agile”, having an interest in both, but not having seen the two together.
    I am impressed both with Durgesh’s using this technique, and that his family also embraced it after their experiment.
    I now want to learn more about Personal Maps and Management 3.0.

  • Durgesh Kumar Mishra says:

    Thanks so much Dave.

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