"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Thursday, October 22, 2009


In today's fast-changing, turbulent & chaotic world, there are actually many visual tools available to help businesspeople, professionals as well as students to navigate information, build understanding, generate ideas & manage complexity.

I reckon most people have come across Mind-mapping, as envisaged by Tony Buzan since the late sixties or early seventies, but I must point out that it is just one of the visual tools available today.

I wish to reiterate: mind-mapping alone is not going to help you solve all your information problems.

In today's context, irrespective of whether it's business or personal, not every challenge or issue can be adequately centralised in a problem solving - or finding - perspective.

Also, just imagine you only have a screw driver in your strategy tool-box.

For us to be operative, we therefore need a smorgasbord of visual tools in our strategy repertoire!

Dilip Mukerjea, a protege of Tony Buzan, has moved out of what I like to call the 'Mindmapping' gridlock to explore new paths in visualising information.

Sad to say, there are a lot of people, including so-called master trainers, who are still stuck in the gridlock.

Over the years, Dilip has created an innovative variety of new visual tools, namely, 'Splash Maps', 'Flow Maps', 'i-Maps' & 'Lifescapes' to help businesspeople, professionals & students, in navigating information, building understanding & generating ideas as well as managing complexity.

Some of these tools have already been covered in this weblog.

In addition to the offerings from Dilip, I like to take this opportunity to highlight other visual tools available today, especially for readers who are keen to explore beyond traditional mind-mapping:

- fish-bone diagramming;
- time-lines;
- transitive-order diagramming, an expanded variation of time lines;
- story grid;
- concept mapping;
- V-diagramming;

- causal loop diagramming;

Readers can also take a look at the following resources:

- 'Thinking Visually: Business Applications of Fourteen Core Diagrams', by Malcolm Craig;

- 'Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes', by David Straker;

- 'The Power of 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems', by Alex Lowly & Phil Hood;

- 'Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results', by John Bryson;

- 'Beyond Words', by Milli Sonneman;

- 'The Marketer's Visual Toolkit', by Terry Richey;

- 'The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems & Selling Ideas with Pictures', by Dan Roam;

In the realm of strategic planning & organisational development, I reckon 'Reinventing Communication: A Guide to Using Visual Language for Planning' by Larry Raymond would be an excellent resource.

Even Nancy Margulies' mind-scapes as envisaged in her 'Mapping InnerSpace' &/or 'Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping Ideas' can help you deliberately move away from Tony Buzan's standard routines.

In other words, you can start your idea from anywhere you like.

For readers who just want a quick & broad understanding of visual thinking perspectives, I would recommend Robert Horn's 'Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century.'

For readers who are working in the educational world, in which visual tools are more commonly addressed as graphic organisers, the following resources are worth exploring:

- 'Drawing Your Own Conclusions', by Fran Claggert;

- 'Going Beyond Words', by Kathy Mason;

- 'Tools for Thought: Graphic Organisers for Your Classroom', by Jim Burke;

Readers who want to explore multi-disciplinary applications should take a further look at these books:

- 'Cooperative Think Tank', Volume I & II, by James Bellanca;

Those who prefer graphic organisers with a focused, critical thinking perspective, should explore:

- 'Organising Thinking', Book I & II, by Howard Black & Sandra Parks;

For navigating scientific materials, 'Concept Mapping' & 'Vee Diagrams', which I have mentioned earlier, as postulated by Joseph Novak in his two seminal books on the subject are definitely worth exploring.

Those who want a more spontaneous free-form approach, I guess Nancy Marguiles' mind-scapes in her book, 'Mapping Inner Space', which I have mentioned earlier, would fit the bill.

For a technology-based system in an educational setting, consultant David Hyerle's 'ThinkMaps' as postulated in his four books, 'Visual Tools for Constructing Knowledge', 'A Field Guide to Using Visual Tools', & 'Student Successes with Thinking Maps', & 'Visual Tools for Transforming Information Into Knowledge' are recommended, even though they have some limitations.

From the foregoing resource highlights, there is a likelihood that readers may be bewildered by so many resources.

My contention is very simple: one should always be open to as many perspectives as possible, so that one does not get stuck to one single perspective.

Of course, there bound to be some overlapping, but, from my own experience as a strategy consultant, the unique perspectives of the particular author as well as the broad diversity of applications as illustrated are definitely worth our time & effort to explore them for knowledge acquisition.

To conclude this post, I like to pose this question:

what is the rationale for using a smorgasbord of visual tools?

I have taken the liberty of selecting several beautiful pictures - hand-crafted first in pencil on a tablet, then digitised on computer - by Dilip Mukerjea, & specifically arranged them in order to answer - visually & picturesquely - the foregoing question, as shown below:

... at three progressive levels: first, as an initial response; second, as a deeper, reflective response; & finally, as an assimilative response, with diligent execution...

...through the visualisation process, you can develop the ability to find & search the 'Next Steps' or 'What's Next? or 'What else?'... after all, the whole purpose of using visual tools is to find & search where they would lead you to... interestingly, creativity guru Edward de bono calls the process, 'water logic'...

additional gains, for the user:

you are able to generate a resourceful state of mind to deal with complexity & to go straight for the jugular...

your thoughts become crystal clear, as you can see all the complex inter-relationships...

you now have the bird's eye view, thus you are able to see the forest from the trees...

you become more discerning & discriminating in creating strategic insights from the data smog... picking strategic intelligence from the information glut...

further gains for the user:

you develop the knack for grasping the big picture quickly, which is a critical tenet of thinking strategically...

plus, the ability to manage & deal with tough, compex tasks...

Last, but not least:

[This post has been inspired by Dilip Mukerjea's newly-released handy 36-page pocket-sized guide to 'The Brainaissance Program of iCAPitalism Seminars', an earlier version of which has already been featured in this blog. All the images are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

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