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Maps can change the cognitive structure used to interpret information and achieve communication a little differently. The use of a map to accomplish communication may not be restricted by the barriers of language. Our attention span is quite limited when delivered an interrelated set of objectives. For example, if one is delivered a list of directions that are interdependent, turn left on Woodward, turn right on Main Street, drive 1/2 mile down, turn right on Blair. It is difficult to remember an interdependent set of directions from the start to finish just because our brain is limited by the cognitive barriers of short term memory and language. Even if the directions are relatively simple, we might have to write them down, follow a list while travelling and we still don't quite know where the directions will take us until we're half way there, or until we think about the end location for a couple of minutes and use a different interpretive scheme. A map on the other hand uses a comparative strategy, referring to cognitive schemes that have already been learned by the recipient. Unlike a set of directions, map oriented schemes have been reinforced thousands of times for anyone who has already seen how streets are related.


For example, if one is told using language that their store is about 1/4 north of some street, it still takes a few seconds to process, generate a cognitive image and think about where this location is. When one is shown a map, the same information is communicated a little differently and one immediately learns where the store is without having to process significant details in words. Since a map uses a subconscious cognitive structure, it is easier for one to remember the location. The reader is also quickly reminded about the area's entire logistic structure, identifiers to find the location, and the route. When added to a set of directions, using maps will also make it more likely that the reader will respond to the directions because the location can be easily learned and more easily remembered. A map can be a little more useful than a set of directions because it can show the relationship between the end location relative to the area's structure. For example, a large corporate building will use a map to show the immediate path to a room for new visitors rather than listing the address. Someone who visits for the first time needing to get to room 320 will not know the structure of the room and will start at 301 counting 305, 306, 307.


Until they get to room 320. A map will be able to show a new visitor to turn in the other direction, and get to 320 three rooms down the hallway by showing the relationship of the entire floor rather than being dependent upon a set of words. The map does all of this which would take a paragraph to describe, it shows a lot more than a paragraph and because it is more easily understood, the response to the map will be much higher than reading a set of directions. In addition, the behavioral response to turn in a specific direction may be greater just because a significant portion of people will not read a list of instructions. Maps are used more than just to provide directions but quickly show a set of ordered relationships. A corporate policy may display an expected process for managers relative to employee evaluation and keep them in compliance with documentation and federal law. This map can quickly list on one page the path to follow for common circumstances experienced by managers and the set of objectives to resolve them. In the Human Resource Department, a process can be described but may not immediately be remembered by managers but required by policy or law.


A map can be used to outline corporate actions with an employee, from initial failure to termination. By outlining this process, managers can quickly understand what the next action is relative to each new circumstance. Maps can keep managers in compliance with initial objectives by summarizing the order of procedures that must be followed and making them more likely to respond relative to the policy's structure. The use of maps will also document intention to follow a specific policy and will be useful in circumstances when a company needs to prove they are taking action to ensure managers remain in compliance.
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