Monday, December 26, 2016

The state of the mind-visual-knowledge mapping nation?

Another comment by Visual Mapper

The state of the mind-visual-knowledge mapping nation?

I really like to watch the state of the nation speeches presented by the premiers of respective countries. They often present the prognosis of the presumed ailments of their economies and societies, and in turn justify the onslaught of media redirection. Somewhat likened to an infinity loop; it’s a little confusing as to whom is first or last, but they seem to feed into each other and therefore can’t do without each other for their sustenance and continued existence. Oh my: that sounds parasitical.

CEO’s do the same and IMO they have the same agendas. We are indeed all enslaved, to a degree; by the edicts, prognoses and re-directions of these thought leaders of their own domains.

We don’t seem to have this collectivization of mindsets within the mind-visual-knowledge mapping arenas do we? And maybe that’s a good thing, as the innovation and creativity that is birthed from the apparent independence of the three arenas seems to be really good for private and corporate futures.

The fierce independence of all software/service developers within these arenas IMO may though be the downfall or gridlock to further creativity and innovation within the mind-visual-knowledge mapping arenas.

How so? Well as I’ve blabbed on about before; ALL the current mainstream products do the same thing. Yes there’s a few (maybe a couple) who innovate somewhat with their addins and solutions, but strip away the addins and solutions and you’re left with a bare skeleton that has no muscle and substance.

Recently I spoke of the awesome discussion I had with Chuck Frey a few years ago regarding enabling the creation of a Visual MappingBody of Knowledge (VMBoK). Further to this BOK I believe we need to have the mainstream (or maybe ALL) gather together for a round table meeting to hash out the current and future probable states of where this arena is or should be heading. Oh my; would it be possible to do such a thing without making all the developers feel like they’re being herded into the abattoir?

I personally don’t fancy the chances of the mind-visual-knowledge mapping arenas chances of progressing further without some kind of respective coming together at an agreed place as a collective to openly discuss the current state of and potential (probable) futures of this most essential tool set, methodologies and mindsets of the respective arenas.

But of course this little thought blog is my kind of tongue in cheek way of prompting my friends and colleagues within these arenas to get their fingers out and do something that resembles meaningfulness.

And yes Wallace Tait: Visual Mapper has always been (and remains to be) one who isn’t afraid to stir up a hornets nest in order to get things moving.

What do you think? Do you have an opinion, are you a developer, a writer or an enthusiast? Regardless of where you’re positioned within these arenas it is so important to get involved in constructive discussions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Visual Mapping Body of Knowledge dream

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

The Visual Mapping Body of Knowledge dream

I recall during 2009 being interviewed by Chuck Frey: yes the one and only, the most notable blogger of all things mind mapping. And during that interview titled The case for a Visual Mapping Body of Knowledge Yes that moustache and younger face (lol); Chuck asked me a few questions regarding my thoughts on the potential, relevancy and realness of a proposed VMBoK back then.

I haven't changed much since the Chuck Frey interview regarding my stance on a VMBoK. Of course there's variation in everything, and ideas change somewhat over time, yet while I, as most have, developed (evolved) throughout the years; my ideas, hopes and aspirations of a VMBoK remain constant.

The mind mapping arena, if we are to face reality, has struggled from the get go to establish itself as a viable and accepted addition to established productivity practices. And as I'm writing, I am also drawn to the fact that it may have been a tool formalized way before its time, as it may be coming into its own now (end of 2016).

Oh if I could time travel; I would have approached Mr Tony Buzan, the man responsible for formalizing hand drawn mind mapping. I would have informed him of his graphical methodology being emulated and plagiarized by competing software developers, the ensuing failed capitalistic drive, the file format and cloud wars. And oh the things that were added to mind mapping software in an attempt to make it more relevant, such as Gantt, calcs, and all of those awesome add ins by third party developers. Would I dare tell him if I travelled back?

But I can't time travel: and here we are (end of 2016) and there's a reality of a plethora of software products based on, and expanded upon, the original Buzan mind mapping methodology. The price and file format wars are something to marvel at.

As much as the original intents of the Buzan approach was to take mind mapping to the masses, it has indeed taken some time to enable it to be even imagined as a tool that covers personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity.

Mind mapping has arrived though, and it must be noted that there's a hierarchy. The Buzan approach in and through Think Buzan, the developer of iMindMap has such a huge following that it exists as an entity untouchable by any and all other software developments within the, in particular, mind mapping genre. Recent further developments of iMindMap, and the rather good associated/integrated DropTask service has proven the relevancy of the Buzan project management approaches.

Then we have the well heeled behemoth; Mindjet, the developer of the most powerful yet complex business mind mapping product available. The product is called MindManager and it is the undeniable leader of graphical business mind mapping genre and arena. All others have aspired to be as great as Mindjet. And the recent Corel acquisition of Mindjet proves this arena isn’t quite done with surprises, creativity and innovation. Let’s see how this turns out in the long term.

Yet there's been a reality check for both iMindMap and MindManager. The genre branding of their products have placed them in position of a probable need to be re-branded.

Yes many are now using the term and definition of “Visual Mapping” to brand themselves as the provider of multiple formats of graphical expression. And as colleague Andrew Wilcox of Cabre stated some years ago; the mind mapping name may be in need of re-branding. And as much as I fully agree with Andrew, I would say even Visual mapping may become passe too.

There is notable developer that has as the other two mentioned, developed a very unique genre associated with their line of products too: they are CS Odessa; the developer of the ConceptDraw suite of productivity software. The ConceptDraw Solution Browser is simply amazing.

Yes there are of course others that have claim to this space too and I would say Xmind have captured many former users of those previously mentioned. The developers of Xmind seems to have been accepted, outwith the stronghold of Buzan usage as the peoples Visual Mapping software.

So we've got these products, and so many more; but they all pretty much do the same thing; don't they?

But the VM Body of Knowledge spoken of some years ago seems to IMO call out for relevancy and validation. How it may be given birth to must IMO be a not for profit structure. I shall however leave that to those more savvy that I regarding setting these things up, but I would gladly be an active part of such a venture.

Let’s consider the potential for such a Body of Knowledge; hoping you read Chuck Frey’s original interview of Visual Mapper and the myriad of informative works at his web pages.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

No Training Required

A really short comment from Visual Mapper

No training required:

I get willingly dragged into all kinds of work that requires visual information management. The majority is often graphical charting, and the scope of representation is really wide.

Flow, statistical, organizational, concept, project, scheduling and mind mapping. You may be the same kind of consultant I am; often we're all over the proverbial map regarding creating a big picture for ourselves and clients.

There's inherent problems when we use multiple tools to create, manage and share our project. The multiplicity of the tools used to generate the big picture often (if not managed effectively) fogs over the intended clarity of focus for our projects.

And that's where the often rejected tool of mind mapping comes into its own. It proves by way of the graphical framework the natural visual connectivity of all aspects of a project, gathering all together into a single point of access.

That single point of access is indeed the graphical framework of the mind map. Now although we use the Visual mapping tool-box to access, handle and utilize multiple formats to create, manage and express (exchange) our work; the mind maps, they kind of rule this arena.

The mind map not only now has embraced multiple formats into its graphical abilities, it becomes a repository of data, information and knowledge by the very nature of how we can attach files, documents and images of all kinds to the graphical framework of the mind map. And there's no doubt a database file architecture will be the next big thing for the mind mapping developers.

This single point of access is often referred to as a Master Map; IMO it's the most ideal format to manage all of your relevant data, information and knowledge.

Products such as TheBrain and Topicscape do this most effectively as they have mastered the relational database conceptualization within graphical knowledge mapping.

Easily done though with your preferred mind mapping product; the only drawback is the weakness of the single file architecture, but I'm confident developers are mulling over their response to this distinct weakness.

But: there's No training required, and if anyone tells you otherwise; they're spinning you. Yes, that age old sales marketing trap of; we have a tool that will transform you, but you need our training courses in order to experience transformation.


Mind mapping software is and should be self explanatory, and if it isn't; don't use it. Complexity is the mother of confusion, and as I see it, there's a few mind/visual mapping products that have built so much complexity into their software offering; so as to make their particular products useless and even wasteful ventures.

So remember: No training required

Monday, May 30, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh: Mirjana Davcheva at Seavus Group

Part Deux: The feedback cometh: Mirjana Davcheva Product Analyst at Seavus Group, The developer of iMindQ

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?

1.       If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?

There hasn’t been any major advancement in the current visual/knowledge mapping arena. A very interesting attempt is a visualization of information from online available data and to build a map of logically and semantically connected information as a mind map, where possible interconnections will be automatically presented with the description of the type of relationship that different items might have.

Advancements were needed and seen with the integrations of tools with external storages such as Google Drive, Box, DropBox, OneDrive etc, like in iMindQ Online. Mind Mapping tools manufacturers have invested in adding new project management features within their tools, or tried building new light, agile project management tools or task management tools, that will be integrated with the mind mapping tools for planning and managing projects within small teams.

2.       If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancements?

The failures can be seen in the slow expansion in raising the awareness of individuals and businesses regarding the benefits that both mind mapping and visualization arena, offer in general.

3.       What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?

Because there is no major advancements in the arena, no specific consequences can be seen or expected.
The consequences of the failures can be seen in the stagnation in development of future advancements in the arena and the wider adoption of those advancements from both individuals and businesses.

4.       Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tools?

We are far away from being considered as a mainstream addition. The visual/knowledge mapping arena is more perceived as an addition to or as an alternative to other productivity tools.
Tools that fall into the visual/knowledge mapping arena, should try to find new ways that will fulfill business needs of people, in order to save them time in today’s busy world. This might help establish mind mapping as a new mainstream addition to other productivity tools, in which the data is better organized, connected and presented.

5.       How do you envision the future of visual/knowledge mapping arena?

The number of data is increasing every day. People will need a tool that will visualize connections and will find patterns in data pulled from databases, from different sources, in a way that is understandable to ordinary people. The inclusion of artificial intelligence and mapping of information gathered from different databases, will increase and popularize the mind mapping and visual mapping among the business community and individuals as well. This is where I see the future of the visual/knowledge mapping arena.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Wojciech Korsak of Explorer Consulting

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Wojciech Korsak of Explorer Consulting

Wojciech is based within Poland and services the business needs of the knowledge management arena within the EU zone. A master of his approach to Visual Business Management, his skills sets are numerous and he has established himself and his associates as the go to place for all things graphical Business Management.

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?

If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?

IMO, undoubtedly "yes"; elements such as:
  • Cloud sharing
  • Cloud co-working on same document
  • Internal calculations
  • Advanced filtering
  • Tagging topics (very important in my work)

These are all key element advancements that indicate we've moved forward as Knowledge Mappers.

Further: the flexibility viewing in various formats allows the user freedom to present knowledge in different ways to graphically communicate the connections between topics. This option is very useful to present topics as diagrams, and not merely as a typical mind map structure.

Most importantly we are exchanging data. It's so convenient to view topics and maps in various output formats: mind maps, process maps, Gantt charts, metro maps, info graphics, sales dashboards,... A most excellent example is CS Odessa's ConceptDraw Office; the engineered balance of: MindMap, Project and PRO independent yet interdependent products is genius.

If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?

What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?

To be frank; we must and have moved forward from mere hand drawn visual representations of information and knowledge. Of course you have the ultimate choice between hand or digital based solutions.

In my work, as a Knowledge management consultant; I approach business knowledge using various graphical formats to assist, coach and teach business managers to begin handling and expressing their data, information and knowledge in graphical formats. Static diagrams have their place, but interactive sales dashboards, knowledge bases, projects dashboards; they hold the future within database file architecture environment.

Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?

Well there's many interesting formats that provide solutions knowledge management.

IMO there's 3 main groups of users.

[1] Classical mind mapping users (Tony Buzan hand drawn)
[2] Software mind mapping that has morphed into the multiple graphical formats of Visual Mapping
[3] Database use with a graphical bent who us multiple IT solutions to create, manage and present knowledge

To shock you; I actually use 15 unique software and cloud products to accomplish my approach to Visual business management. So it all depends on who and what needs to be presented: it may be simple static diagrams or interactive knowledge bases.

How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena

Well I hope we'll arrive at, as Gregory Zhukov CEO of CS Odessa states, “A common file format”. I really do hope, as my colleague Wallace Tait hopes for too, as it would enable the presentation and exchange of data, information and knowledge so much easier. Many of my clients confirm the need and want of a common graphical knowledge database. For me as graphical dashboard junky, this would be a users dream come true.

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Jamie Nast of Idea Mapping Success

 Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Jamie Nast of Idea Mapping Success

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article? Yes
  1. If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?

I can only speak of my own experience. Since 2010 I’ve taught my Idea Mapping Workshop to over 5000 professionals.
The companies where I’ve taught have taken me to a wide array of countries and organizations including these notables:
    - Poland for the last 8 years to be part of a project sponsored by the Ministry of Regional Development and the European Union. This program has been recognized for its excellence by the Office of the Prime Minister.
    - One of Abu Dhabi’s largest oil companies - Takreer
    - Amman Jordan
    - Presentations for PMI and IIBA annual conferences with standing room only
    - PRA International: A clinical research organization
    - Ball State U & Middle Tennessee State University
    - A 3-year contract with the largest aviation company in the world
    As a result of these workshops I’ve seen such a vast variety of uses for mind maps; many of which I cannot expound upon due to the proprietary nature of the content. I’ve seen tremendous personal and professional growth in astounding numbers of workshop participants. Other advancements would include the Biggerplate movement and the Using Mind Maps Magazine.

    2. NA

  1. What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?

The consequences are like a snowball that is picking up steam. I only see a continued desire to embrace mind mapping and other visual tools that enhance learning, thinking and productivity.

  1. Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?

In pockets, but still have a way to go.

  1. How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena?
The biggest change I’ve seen is that people finally get that you can’t just throw a software package at a user and expect them to “get it.” I see the trend changing to teaching learners the theory behind mind mapping then followed by the potential use of a software tool. This gives mappers deep knowledge of both hand-drawn and software generated maps. Now the purpose of creating a mind map can determine the venue.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Young G Chung: CEO, SimTech Systems, Inc

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

As CEO of SimTech Systems Inc I'd like to share my thoughts with you.

Yes we've been the developer of MindMapper and Thinkwise for the past 20 years. And regarding the question of visual thinking arena's past, present, and future?

Visual thinking is one of the thinking attributes born to all human beings. However, there are different methods and degrees of visual thinking, but in all, everyone, whether they know it or not, thinks visually.

Visual mapping software is an excellent tool that helps users to think creatively and logically utilizing the tree structure as a visual backbone. However, we must realize that visual mapping is just one method out of many that facilitate visual thinking.

Let's look at the advancement in the visual mapping arena from the software perspective only. Computer generated mind map was available in the mid-1990s. Digital mind map market really opened up when the market received with enthusiasm MindMapper's key feature of converting a map to an MS Word document for the first time at Comdex 2001.

Before and after 2010, we witnessed increased expansion of creative thinking at the team level by utilizing collaboration. And currently, individual and teams are using mobile and the cloud for visual mapping needs.

The biggest contribution visual mapping has made is that visual diagramming skills only available to professionals were now accessible to many to help simplify and expedite their daily activities. In short, it has fundamentally contributed to achieving happiness and success by utilizing visual and whole brain thinking capabilities given to all human beings.

A lot of people are still puzzled and want to know why the visual mapping software industry has not solidified itself as mainstream. But, one must ask if such question or the expectation is valid and beneficial.

A lot of people cannot distinguish the difference between visual mapping and mind mapping. Visual thinking and visual tools had been around even before mind map existed and they are not limited to a tree structure visualization.

Visual mapping products, when they came to market, emphasized main benefits and positive effects inherent only to mind mapping. As a result, mind mapping became a buzzword to the general public equating it to visual thinking.

Many visual mapping software developers from 2000 to 2005 have used mind map for their marketing efforts. However, as time passed, many have realized that mind mapping software is nothing more than information visualized in a tree structure and started to lose interest in the whole arena. On top of that, it is tough to replicate the original mind map's memory benefits from a digitally created map. Ironically, mind map has contributed to the rise of the visual mapping market, however, in the process, it has contributed to the loss of visual mapping identity and definition.

Salt is used in almost all food. However, salt is never presented as food itself. Visual thinking is God-given natural talent that everyone uses in their daily activities. But, mind mapping technique or tree-based visual mapping is just a small part of visual mapping arena. We all know of a visual mapping developer who positioned itself as a project management tool in the early 2000s as a way to distinguish itself from the rest of the industry but had failed to emerge as a viable project management tool.

Mind mapping or any tree-based visual mapping software can work together along with groupware, ERP, and such, to create synergy, but they can never become a substitute or replacement. From this perspective, I foresee future products integrated with the mainstream products or evolve to combine technology such as DB, Big Data, and AI with visualization using visual mapping.

MindMapper also has contributed to the growth of visual mapping arena for the past 20 years. "Value creation through innovation" is MindMapper's direction for the next stage of development. To create value, you need to ideate and execute. Our goal is to evolve into a more comprehensive tool that can facilitate idea to action. And our current iteration, MindMapper 16 is the first product development process accomplishing this objective.

Thank you;

Young G Chung
CEO, SimTech Systems, Inc.
Developer of MindMapper

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Phil Sheperd.

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Phil Sheperd the founding director of Gooisoft Ltd and developer of the most intriguing Thortspace: a 3D visual thinking tool gives his knowledgeable feedback to the questions posed by Visual Mapper.

One of the refreshing things about your approach, Wallace, is that you are clearly open to true innovation and not restricted by any form of preconceived ideas.

Mind-mapping works brilliantly in all its forms and in all its iterations for the purposes it is built for and I am sure that this is why, over the last thirty years or so, mind-mapping in general has gathered such an enthusiastic following amongst senior managers (just look at the superb Biggerplate annual survey to see who actually uses mind-mapping in the work environment).

But Mind mapping is only part of the story... In the original report from 2010,  Nick Duffill of Harport Consulting says "Visual mapping includes but is not limited to mind, concept, flow and argument mapping. Of course there are more tools included; but for the sake of argument these tools adequately cover the graphical capabilities of Visual mapping. Visual mapping may be a useful term to bridge the gap and emphasize the common goal of both mind maps and other data visualization formats."

One or two of your readers may know, my colleagues and I have been quietly building a collaborative 3D thought processing tool specifically for problem solving, where
the 'juice' is in the process rather than a finished map and the main influences have not been mind-mapping or knowledge mapping but philosophers, modern psychologists and gaming-quality graphics-card capabilities so, although avid observers of all things graphical-thinking related, we could be perceived as working outside the mapping genre so I'm not sure we qualify to answer your questions(but I'll have ago anyway!)

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?

If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?
1. Five and a half years is a very long time in the technology world so I would have expected quite dramatic advances. As Moore's Law has continued to prevail, there have been massive changes in hardware and computing power and big reductions in cost of access during this time. I don't yet see the world of Visual/Knowledge mapping having advanced at the same pace over this same period. That's not to say there haven't been any advances at all; there have been many superb incremental software improvements. Then there's been the growth of Biggerplate which, although specifically Mind Mapping oriented, represents an opportunity for promoting the genre to a wider audience.
During this particular five year period, however, Leaps and Bounds could have been expected - but I haven't seen them.

If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?
2. Perhaps there's been a general lack of breakthrough thinking about what might be possible using rapidly changing technological advances - but that applies to both users and developers.
There's a chicken and egg problem here. Developers have to take very expensive risks when investing in something highly innovative, because potential mainstream customers are very quick indeed to reach for their "too hard to learn" and "learning-curve time-investment" OFF switches almost before they get started and/or make a purchase decision.

What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?
3. The consequences of not investing in paradigm shifting innovation will simply be that those who do (on both sides, developers and users) will move rapidly forward while those who don't, will probably just stay where they are.
Grabbing the attention of a wider customer base is not easy but there is a growing group of potential customers in the young, millennials, who have much more open mindsets and are hungry for something different. Failing to inspire millennials with the beneficial possibilities inherent in visual knowledge mapping would be a wasted opportunity to say the least. There is a dilemma here of course; this is not the demographic that currently uses mind mapping in large numbers (see the Biggerplate survey)

Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?
4. The moment when one of the really big software corporations puts a visual/knowledge mapping tool into their mainstream product portfolio will be the time when maturity will occur.
This will be wonderful for all of us because we'll have a world in which untold numbers will realise that they can more easily solve problems, brainstorm, cope better with increasingly complex lives and collaborate across divides. It will also massively increase marketing possibilities for already existing development companies.

How do you envision the future of the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena?

5. As a medium for thinking and developing ideas, planning, collaborating and easily accessing and manipulating complex data, Visual/knowledge mapping can look forward to a very rosy future indeed but only if technological change is fully grasped.  The next five years are going to bring even greater innovative change to the technology world; indeed the only constant will be change itself.
We could see a breakthrough if developers can truly embrace and build for the needs of the millennial demographic in the context of up-coming 3D VR technologies

Above all, it will depend on the industry's ability to capture imaginations and powerfully demonstrate major advantages and benefits. How? Well, other industries have done it by collaborating and co-ordinating and investing in whole industry promotions....

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Pofessor Toni Krasnic.

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Toni Krasnic @ConciseLearning an academic and author of Concise Learning-student success is laser focused on the academic use of in particular Mind mapping in school-college-university settings.

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?

I haven't seen any real advancement in use of Visual/Knowledge mapping in schools.

If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?

If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?

Students and teachers are still struggling to see the real benefits to use of Visual/Knowledge mapping in academia. They're not to blame; visual/knowledge mapper are. We haven't done our job in clearly explaining, via real life examples and user stories, how visual/knowledge mapping can benefit students and teachers.

In addition, when we have told stories, we have focused on the visual mapping process, rather than benefits, which has not helped with adoption. For example, many students still perceive visual/knowledge mapping as a drawing exercise they did in Kindergarten and first grade and is not useful in higher ed.

To advance the use of visual/knowledge mapping, we have to carefully choose our stories that we tell, and then tell lots of them and often.

What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?

We're still at a point where visual/Knowledge mapping is a novelty in schools, even after many decades of existence.

Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?

I haven't seen a mainstream addition although MindMeister is certainly making an impact.

How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena.

Use of new technology/ideas spreads when there's a clear benefit to adopting them. Visual/Knowledge mapping arena will struggle until we clearly make a demonstration of benefits from its use. These stories have to come from common users, not just mappers, to have the most impact and relevance.

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Hans Terhurne.

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Hans Terhurne of creamatics @HansTerhurne has been a colleague for many years now, and his thought leadership within the EU regions of Netherlands/Germany relating to visual knowledge is very well known and exposed.

Yes, something has changed in the way visual mapping tools are marketed. More and more we see business examples and presentations focusing on business purposes at the sites of the software companies.

Visual mapping tools are not only our schematic ways of acting with all kinds of maps. Infographics are still nearby, but there are also visual thinking tools as photo, video, family/business constellations, cartooning/harvesting and theatre. Our specialisms are the schematic forms because of our backgrounds I think.

I think we still are focusing too much on the tools where it’s about the thinking process. We know our added value is interesting because of these tools, but still … Problem is that focusing on the process we have to compete with all kinds of other consultants and facilitators while we are/want to be those very special and valuable VISUAL facilitators.

We still struggle with the fact that a lot of people first have to experience our way of working before they have any idea what it could bring. Since their childhood people learned in a linear way. To change that to a more holistic thinking means a lot, it makes people a bit unsure or even anxious. And most people are already unsure and anxious because of all kinds of crises at this moment – better stick to the known way of working because you never know what will come out.

As Jeff Conklin and Paul Culmsee say it’s also difficult to work our way if there are hidden agendas. Sometimes the transparent picture is not wanted.

We are in a transition period which give us chances. Some companies and communities are looking for a dialog. A dialog means more listening than talking and with our tools we can structure this dialog. Also old solutions work less and less, so more and more people will be open for other ways of getting clear what should be done. Problems are getting more ‘wicked’ and the rational linear way of problem solving doesn’t work very well in such cases. An iterative process with the help of visual mapping is getting more interesting.

So it’s not about visual mapping, it’s about thinking of all kinds of things with the help of visual mapping. It’s about the process and we still are talking too much about the tools and if something may be called mind mapping as meant by Tony Buzan. It’s not important if we use mind/concept/whatever mapping. We can help to get a wider overview and a deeper insight with our way of facilitating and we know what tools are most helpful in a certain situation.

A problem is how to distinguish from ‘the others’.

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Chris Griffiths

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Chris Griffiths @GriffithsThinks is founder and CEO of OpenGenius, the company behind the iMindMap and DropTask brands gives his feedback below.

It was an excellent article. I felt your viewpoints were balanced and objective, as were those of many of your contributors. I did take exception to some of the comments made by others. It appears that many in the industry focus too much on trying to convince others that their new ‘visualizations’ are better than Tony Buzan mind mapping. Our viewpoint is that Tony’s original mind mapping process is very effective and that there are many other visualizations that are also very effective for specific tasks. To say one is better than the other is not constructive to the industry. It is, ultimately, a question of personal choice for users depending on what they are wanting to achieve.

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?

If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?
Yes, clearly it has. More people in both education and business are becoming aware of the benefits of using visual tools to help them. There are now more software products / visualizations available meaning more choice of tools for specific applications.

If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?
The lack of combined input from the industry to educate the outside world as to the benefits of visual mapping.

What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?
It is inevitable that visual mapping will become more prevalent. Individuals that continue with old ways of working will get left behind.

Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?
Of course. It is a matter of overcoming the chains of familiarization that keep people using the same tool-sets.

How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena
We have made much progress, but we are still in the infancy of the VK mapping age. More combined effort needs to be made by the industry, education and governments to promote the benefits of VK mapping.

Part Deux: The feedback cometh. Professor Pascal Venier

In answer to: The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)? 

Notable colleague and Academic professor Pascal Venier @pascalvenier has offered a summary of his thoughts as an answer to the questions posed at “The Evolution of the Visual Mapper part Deux

The evolution, or rather the lack of pertinent evolution, in the software industry is a huge disappointment. They fail to focus on what is important, ie the usability and purely visual dimension: this is very much the elephant in the room. Likewise the ability to switch between radial (mind-mapping) and hybrid (concept mapping) formats. The only cool new app I have seen since you wrote that piece is the Inspiration app for iPads, which gives a feel for what visual mapping could be like in the future; In writing this I visualize a Minority Report-like screen.
New pricing models based on subscriptions are not adapted to private users and make costs increasingly prohibitive”.

Friday, March 4, 2016

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map:

But should I?

A conundrum of a question for sure isn't it? We're 40+ years since the modern formalization of a hand drawn technique called Mind Mapping developed by the father of the arena; Mr. Tony Buzan.

Tony completely understood then as we now do; how the human brain works at a microscopic level and expressed it so beautifully as the mind map.

Looking at the synaptic explosion of connections within a mind map, and experiencing what can be achieved by utilizing the radiant graphical layout to express information and knowledge, is quite phenomenal for many. -----But not for all.

Why not for all?

Now as far as I'm concerned, mind mapping is an amazing graphical tool that simply must be experienced in order to understand the deeper implications for personal, academic and business advantages. And after that initial usage, it usually takes more than one pass; insights are delivered and epiphanies realized.

Yes there's something about mind mapping that takes you further down the rabbit hole of curiosity. And we never want to climb out of that rabbit hole, as we go deeper we realize we're evolving at an exponential rate regarding graphical information management.

The wide scope of uses have been realized by a few developers who've expanded upon the original Buzan concept. There's a few capable developers who've added functions and capabilities, presenting them within their products to the market as extremely effective business productivity tools.

Not for all though; and it's such a shame mind mapping has been almost relegated to the fringes of the mainstream many developers really did hope to conquer. It may still happen though.

The wholesale adoption just didn't pan out, and regardless of any well meaning attempts to drive mind mapping into the mainstream via associations, groups, forums and business models, it still hasn’t to date (1st Q 2016) gained any real measure of mainstream notoriety. There are of course outliers that doggedly presume mainstream adoption is just around the corner. Oh my: I may be one of them, but then I do dream.

I believe the “Why not for all” question is easily answered by the drive by most developers to laser focus their iteration of mind mapping to business, rather than a balanced offering to the general public too. Mind mapping has been marketed by most developers solely as a business tool.

Mind mapping can and does indeed cover the three distinct usage areas of personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity. But IMO to laser focus solely on the business arena has been to the detriment of fully exposing to personal and academic uses too.

We certainly can't blame the developers for aiming their marketing strategies at business use only. Taking a look at the majority of software offerings, it's clear they've added functions and capabilities personal users in particular simply don't need, require or demand.

So what is needed to happen in order for mind mapping to gain maximum exposure? Surely we visual thinkers with a mind mapping bent haven't been doing the exposure thing all wrong; have we?

From my perspective ThinkBuzan; the developer of the excellent iMindMap information mapping product; have like most other software mind mapping developers, joined the visual mapping genre offering multiple graphical layouts that transforms them into Visual mapping product.

The Mind mapping software developers realized that to have more or maximum exposure, they'd have to add more graphical formats and functions that would enable their products to be perceived as a business productivity tool-set.

And so the cost of having this kind of Visual mapping software went up, because it made marketing and financial sense by the developers to be perceived as growing in relevancy by an exclusivity of cost to user.

In reality we now have Visual mapping products that have expanded upon the original and traditional Buzan approach, adding graphical layouts such as concept type of mapping, rudimentary flow charting, Excel range inputs, calcs, Gantt and more.

The cost though; yes the cost always comes into it. But if the main marketing drive is towards the business arenas, businesses can indeed justify the cost of owning or subscribing to this visual mapping product/service?

But the personal users: can they justify the high cost of purchasing this kind of product? The price range doesn't seem to have a really wide affordability scope for single users. There are a couple of products that do lie within a really affordable range for the single user who has the cash to throw at a visual mapping product. But as a close colleague stated to me recently; “Wallace you do all this stuff with your visual mapping software and I can accomplish the same deliverable results using MS Office and other office product ranges”.

Damn don't you hate it when the reality check moment slaps you in the face? And yes it is indeed true that many simply don't tune into in particular mind mapping. And they may use other tools and formats such as flow charts, Excel and even info-graphics; producing similar results and in many cases a more comprehension rate of understanding by their recipients.

The challenge for those with a mind mapping bent like us? It's to integrate the format ever so subtly to our particular mainstreams. Whether it may be contained within an email as an image file or printed off and showcased in your office, factory floor or classroom; it's always been about the user taking the initiative. And that is a natural process for the mind mapper who's become so passionate about the tool and format to the point of being an evangelist for the format.

The developers know this and are delighted to see others create groups, associations and business models based on their tools. These user groups have become the unwitting unpaid marketers of their products. But the question must be asked of most developers; why create your product knowing it has such a wide scope and then almost step back and watch the landscape be produced by well meaning enthusiasts?
Another conundrum of course; the developers have actually enabled the arenas associated with mind/visual and knowledge mapping to be defined by the users to a point. Ultimately though the developer controls the product/service.

Questions just start piling upon each other after awhile and the developers arena gets fogged over by crisis of identity, purpose and relevancy. After all we do have a huge and ever growing tool-box called Visual Mapping that includes but isn't exclusive to mind mapping.

But Mind mapping endures by the very nature of the arena that has been developed mainly by the users. The developers have tried to create community and togetherness according to their file format. And for the most part they've failed to go mainstream due to the lack of community and togetherness.

I mentioned file format; this has been the enduring battle for supremacy between developers. My format is more popular that yours eh. It's still relevant as MindManager, ImindMap and Xmind file formats have become the most used formats.

Regardless of all the confusing and distracting issues associated with the mind mapping arena; I remain to be a knowledge consultant with a mind mapping bent. And yes, I equally use flow charts, concept maps, statistical ranges and info-graphics too. I'm a Visual Mapper.

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map: and YOU?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Part Deux: The feedback cometh

The answers to the 5 key questions have started to trickle in, and as promised, they're posted here for your perusal. The freedom for the reader to interpret and reply with their contextual feedback is important. Some answers may be direct, abstract or just brief, and that's all good; so enjoy the feedback by those who chose to express their subjective opinions and feedback.


As the answers trickled in I did initially add them to this blog post; but I believe the answers to date and future contributions all deserve a blog post dedicated to their answers. It added professional respect to the contributors and simply made more sense to do this. So please look to the blog posts titled "Part Deux: The feedback cometh" with the contributors name attached.

The first post link is to Part Deux: The feedback cometh Professor Pascal Venier


Thursday, February 18, 2016

It often all boils down to:

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

It often all boils down to:

Do you recall the now embedded line captain Kirk states at the beginning of every star trek episode? Of course you do: “Space the final frontier”. No I'm not a Trekkie, but that statement always strikes me with a flood of thoughts that cause me to dwell on the significance of what Kirk says.

If we may: let's replace the word Space with Mind and the context immediately changes and we have a challenging suggestion. Space? Nope I'm not much of a space buff or fan, and if we are not alone in the universe; well I want to ask God about that when i get to meet her.

Whereas space is something “out there” beyond our normal perception, other than glaring at the skies at night to view the splendor of the creative big bang. But Mind; is not mind the universe within us, that repository of innumerable potentials?

At Visual Mapper, including all of my mind/visual mapping colleagues I associate and work with; we all seem to agree, understand, value and believe in the power of the human mind. We humans have the capacity to create, on one hand, most amazingly beautiful benevolence, yet on the other hand, we have the capacity to create grotesquely ugly malevolence too. A testament and condemnation of the condition of the human mind and its mental representations.

I keep this in mind, when I'm creating graphical representations of what a client, colleague or friend may need or request. And in the process of doing this; the result are pretty consistent.

Using the tools and methods of mind, visual, knowledge mapping, I often become far removed from objectivity and become wrapped up in the subjective thought processes my client projects to me. This is difficult to handle in most cases, as I am in no way feeling the thoughts of my client, but am trying to tune into the intentions of their thought processes.

Nope I don't assume the lotus position, start chanting or even wear my old hippy headband, and yes I have inhaled; I use mind mapping at the base level, the multiple formats of visual mapping as a graphical enhancement and knowledge mapping as my database management repository.

And another “nope” to the notion or suggestion that there's any kind of esoteric or occult happenstance in what I have said in relation to mind and the use of mind, visual, knowledge mapping.

There is though; a certain truth to the reality of experience of mind maps often being encountered as tools for expressing outwardly that which has originated inwardly; in our minds via thought. Yes we start all of this mapping stuff with the spark of thought. And indeed the mind does work only one way. We generate thoughts, and what better a tool such as mind mapping to tap-into our thought processes.

I believe many of my colleagues will agree with me when I say: after all these years of involvement within the mind/visual/knowledge mapping arenas; It all boils down to Personal development. And we consultants inevitably become some sort of coach to our clients, colleagues and friends via the use of these tools.

Whilst we consultant: may be constrained by NDA's not to speak directly of the work we do with specific clients. We are free however to speak openly; giving scenarios of how the tools and methods of mind mapping has indeed assisted our clients to develop a personal development mindset. And this mindset causes exponential improvements in the way they create, manage and share their own experiential connections with mind and thought.

But regardless of the ways in which we use the tools and techniques of visual mapping; in many cases it all boils down to personal development for numerous clients. I've started off with a very in depth assessment of either process management and/or a quality system. And in the process of my activities and the use of visual mapping I eventually have that one on one special moment of clarity with my clients.

Those clarity moments are very common, and that's where we may have to stop and ask our client if this is where they wish to take the direction of our skill sets. Of course that is after we've accomplished the commitments of our contractual terms of agreement.

But again; often more than not; I must say I end up almost being a coach to many of my clients via their personal series of epiphanies and insights offered by their my use and their understanding of the tools and techniques of visual mapping.

The development of an overarching mindset seems to be of importance to this insight process, and I am so interested in finding out if this has been a common or uncommon experience of my fellow colleagues while they take their clients through an understanding of the power of visual knowledge management.

Has it boiled down to personal development for you and your clients? I'd love to know.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)?

September 2010: the blog titled The Evolution of the Visual Mapper gave available thought leaders within the mind/visual/knowledge mapping arenas an invitation to comment on the state of the respective arena's development, identity and potential future.

Some excellent comments from those thought leaders, yet that was September 2010 and this is the first quarter of 2016. And here we are some years later asking ourselves: have we experienced any kind of an evolution? Or to be more clear: has the mind/visual mapping arena moved us forward regarding the ways in which we create, manage and share data, information and knowledge?

For me: I've become rather misanthropic about, in particular the mind mapping arena; although I am very involved within the Visual/Knowledge mapping/management environments; I'm personally disappointed as to the lack of disruptive innovation in general.

Apart from my preferred software products/services, I look at the landscape of available products and view a plethora of software tools and services revealing we seem to have way too much product choices, yet the opposite is the case, as most products perform and look just the same. Yes uniformity has been the curse of the Mind/Visual mapping arena. And cost (affordability) seems to be the only real focus for prospective users.

Yup I've said this all before and indeed do sound like an old recording, so lets hand this over to the thought leaders within this arena. Where are they?

There was 18 invitations sent to notable visual thinkers I've worked with directly or closely associate with within the mind/visual/knowledge mapping arenas. And if you weren't in that initial invitation list; maybe it's because we've not worked directly with each other or associate with each other currently. But of course you need no invitation to make your comments and add your take.

Surprisingly (or maybe not) there were a few declines to add feedback and comment; this was understandable (and expected), as those who declined to comment may have been deeply embedded with mainstream developers. Any challenging comments may have had detrimental effects upon their business relationships with their supporting developers. No judgments; simply observations, I've certainly been there and done that.

Here's the questions I threw at the recipients:

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?
  1. If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?
  2. If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?
  3. What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?
  4. Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?
  5. How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena

So I waited for responses, and I waited, and then waited some more. Oh of course I'm impatient.

I'll post them as additions to this blog when they eventually trickle back to me.

We must indeed take a reality check regarding the Visual mapping arena. Yes and my reality check may be my that my colleagues are simply uninterested in my trivial questions.

On it's own; the mapping arena as I alluded to in the 2010 article, hangs its coat on a very shaky nail. I'll say again; the mind/visual mapping arena may owe its survival, relevancy and future recognition to established professional associations such as Quality management and business management.

These organizations may understand, accept and support the tools and methods of mind/visual mapping as an addition to their existing Quality and business management tool-box. So IMO it makes complete sense to be laser focusing in on these organizations. There are in fact many companies and organizations using the tools and methodologies we use (I've actually seen it being used), but I have found no evidence of organizational wide adoption of mind mapping in particular.

Have we experienced an evolution part deux? Well let me answer questions from my very tainted and subjective positioning. Ah! Maybe that is the issue for the recipients; are the questions constraining them from answering in a way that protects their approaches (consultancies and direct associations with certain developers)? Again; simply my observations.

Here's my answers according to my particular interpretation of the questions: Please add yours

Do you believe the Visual/Knowledge mapping arena has experienced a measurable advancement since the publication of the original article?
  1. If yes: what do you believe have been the most relevant advancements?
I would say the most notable advancements have been relating to cloud association, device usage and presentation outputs. And of course additions such as project management functions and calculation capabilities that actually already exist within mainstream products such as MS Project, Oracle products and other notable competitors.

  1. If not: what have been the most notable failures of advancement?
IMO: the most notable failure has been the lack of advancement from single file architecture to database file architecture.

  1. What are the consequences for the arena based on advancements and/or failures?
Consequences for the advancement? Hard to say when the advancements (as I see it) are limited to presentation and cloud. 

Consequences for failures? The failure to place the product in the hands of the common people; the focus on business use only may be the rock some perish on.

  1. Are we there yet as a mainstream addition or alternative to established productivity tool-sets?
Absolutely not:
The arena to this day has and remains to be perceived by many as a cottage industry and therefore fringe to the mainstream. If this were not the case we'd be exposed to mind/visual mapping more from the mainstream media.

The mainstream breakthrough may have been achieved by the Buzan approach due to the huge user base and apparent religious like fervor of followers associated with the real founder of Mind mapping; Tony Buzan, and the Think Buzan organization and the excellent Buzan mapping product named iMindMap. But then again Mindjet owned that space at one time, and may be back to claim it again for sure. But Xmind; they've scared everyone with their ever growing user numbers and rather good product.

  1. How do you envision the future of Visual/Knowledge mapping arena
It's all in the data load, and the further development of the single file architecture into a database file architecture is essential IMO. The desktop to cloud sync capabilities is equally essential. It is shockingly evident a few developers have missed the importance of the desktop to sync relevancy by the absence of an attachment load to their graphical frameworks.

Of course there's more that can be said, and my answers are merely my particular interpretations of the question. And yes there's lots more that can be added as answers, but this is an article that needs no conflated answers that read like tomes. 

Further developments have been interesting, but if I were to be an investor within some of these mainstream developers (and this also applies to my preferred products too) I'd be asking where the ***K are my dividends.

The developments since 2010 have been IMO embarrassingly slow to market; so slow that when they appear, they just feel so last year and 1.0 version type. Many of the additions compete with the established norms within academia and business arenas, and begs the question “Do we really need these functions and capabilities within mind/visual mapping products, when we already have them available within established standards offered by MS, Oracle and other competitors”?

Oh my; my cynicism really shines through eh. But I'm so much tougher on myself than with what I see as pseudo relevant developments within the Visual mapping arena. I present and teach this stuff for a living so I should be more upbeat shouldn't I?

Hey; in reality I am extremely upbeat about further developments, and if we ever have the opportunity to meet personally sometime, I'm sure you'd feel my enthusiasm for this arena.

As passionate as I am, I really want to make it respectfully clear to the developers that they've had great success offering excellent products to their respective user bases who've simply evolved way faster than their excellent products have, and it's time IMO to get back in touch with what users want, need and demand from mind/visual mapping.

There is one organization that has indeed accomplished the bringing together of, in particular, mind mapping users. It's a huge associative entity, and as much as I am a former member of this most interesting entity, I highly recommend it as a Go To place for in particular the mind mapping arena outwith the huge arena that Buzan mind mapping rightly claims ownership of. Go visit Biggerplate.

And of course I must give deserved and acknowledged recognition to Chuck Frey. His very notable professional blog writings over the years has and continues to be a pillar of support for the mind-visual mapping and associated arenas.

Indeed I would enjoy feedback from associations, bloggers and knowledge management thought leader colleagues regarding these challenging questions. Hopefully we're working together through our networks and associations to serve this part of the 21st century's interest, grasp and use of visual Knowledge management.

Blogs are strange entities though aren't they? Almost anomalies. The viewing numbers here at are constant; yet the replies and feedback are few and far between. Oh well; maybe that's another reality check eh?

The Evolution of the Visual Mapper (Part Deux)? ABSOLUMENT PAS!