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!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

The ZEN of knowledge management

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

The ZEN of knowledge management

Nope; I'm not going all spiritual or esoteric on you (well just a little).

ZEN: that mindfulness state we experience when we've found ourselves to be in the zone of personal, academic and business productivity. That zone of pure focus, accelerated thought processing and a kind of connection with or realization of something. That something is often reported to be either deep within ourselves or something outwith our regular consciousness that is influencing us in a way we simply can't put words to.

The Neuroscience folk will say nope; you're simply experiencing new synaptic connections being made in your brain and you're just feeling or emotionalizing a surge of connectivity that you simply can't express other than what you value and believe.

Okay: I go with a mix of the two, as I, probably like you, have been indoctrinated with religiosity and or spirituality from childhood, and yes we are or become, to an extent, what we have been led to believe.

But the Zen of Knowledge Management: what is it? Well like me I believe the knowledge manager may agree with me that the Zen of anything is a mix of the two stated above.

Of course the word Zen is borrowed from eastern religion, a system I personally don't tune into, but for the sake of a definition that almost everyone may relate to, Zen is most certainly a state of mindfulness while performing a task and that task being extremely productive while in other circumstances you may be less productive without Zen.

How do we get to that place of Zen? For me it's very subjective, and my methods may not be your methods, but there is a common Mindset associated with entering into that Zen state. Mindset is in my experience the result of tried and tested processes accomplished by performing procedures that support the task/s at hand. Process is what we do and procedure is how we do what we do.

But in environments, regardless of system, many you may have the opportunity to ask “what is your job here” they'll proceed to tell you how they do their job. Nope it's not semantics, I believe we are conditioned into (just like spirituality and religion) to misunderstand the difference between procedure and process.

Is the Zen of Knowledge Management accomplished by using specific tools? As I stated above, it's very subjective and your methods like mine may not be appropriate or even acceptable to your friends, colleagues, suppliers, clients or employers.

Here's what I've found: The herding instinct of humans comes into play regarding tools, methodologies and mindsets. I've come across many knowledge handlers, workers and thought leaders who use tools that I just can't get my very small brain around. And this is what makes and distinguishes the subjectivity of knowledge management and the resulting Zen experienced.

Here's a short list of tools and methodologies that seems to take some into a Zen like state where the creation, management and exchange (sharing) of data, information and knowledge seems to be of importance.

  • Bullet points (Yup, some say this is it)
  • Infographics (Becoming more popular)
  • Graphical charting (Flow-charts, Gantt & charting in general)
  • Concept mapping (Synaptic mapping for sure)
  • Mind mapping (A huge arena)
  • Knowledge mapping (An expansion on Mind mapping)
  • Cloud computing (May become the core function of human connectivity)
  • Social media/ social software models (Transparency being the accepted norm)
  • Personal database models (May be the encrypted secure and safe preference)


The Zen of Knowledge management is certainly not dependent upon any specific tools, but the tools and methodologies we are exposed to can and often does assist in reaching a mindset that becomes your subjective tool-box for personal, academic and business Zen productivity.

But in any case; I have found my particular approach to knowledge management Zen to be very similar to others who have reached their own experiential Zen.

As usual I blab on and go off on way too many directions, but the focus of reaching your knowledge management zen must be important to you; maybe enough to share what yours is.

What is yours? I'd love to know.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Your knowledge companion

Another thought blog by Visual mapper

Your knowledge companion

Regardless of where you're thought processes are right now with respect to personal databases; having one is a reality that may give you less knowledge management stress.

Now; if you're following these short thought blogs at you'll be guided by my thought processes regarding the evolution of the mind mapper through information mapping to knowledge mapping.

At this point of the 21st century we're experiencing a quantum leap in technology. And this leap, is to me, like a fork in the road. To the left, technology offers a social media model of complete transparency, and to the right; technology offers a personal database model of encryption, security and safety.

Yes a vast majority of the connected world has a social media account; I do too, Twitter and LinkedIn is the extent of my social media exposure these days. I need to though, control my exposure due to business security and NDA's, and a personal database supplies me with absolute control.

Of course the social media user may say “hey these two things are the same thing”, I disagree. I experience very little control after I post, upload or share via any social media models. But it's clear the vast majority who use this model either, wilfully ignore the traps of transparency, or are simply conditioned out of believing encryption, security and safety are relevant.

The personal database models allow the user to have absolute control as to what is shared.

My personal choice for creating, managing and exchanging (controlled sharing) of my personal, academic and business data/information/knowledge is done via the only product that has proven to offer me the best secure, encrypted desktop to cloud sync capabilities to date.

This product/service? It's called TheBrain and you'll find it at Most who view the brain are inquisitive knowledge management seekers who've been encouraged to take a look at it by enthusiasts and power users alike. Your first your reaction may be similar to my own when I first viewed TheBrain.

My reaction was something like: “WTF is this?” Hey I'm a Glasgow boy born and bred; I naturally react this way. But I must admit, I was very negative towards the graphical structure of this product initially. I am now a great admirer and supporter of this awesome product. You see; I was an evolving mind mapper who was stationed at a place called Visual Mapping.

My evolution was wrapped up in the environment I worked within at that time; it was the Quality management field, and boy I was struggling to manage my data and information via my traditional usage of mind maps and flowcharts and even rudimentary info-graphics.

I eventually settled with my graphical mapping product of choice and to date I can't be moved to use any other product range; as my charting and graphical charting needs are fully met within the ConceptDraw pro product.

My mind mapping usage has more variation that includes but isn't limited to using iMindMap, SimTech MindMapper, ConceptDraw MindMap, MindGenius, Xmind, MindManager, Comapping and Goalscape. How's that for a clear indication of graphical ADD, OCD? But alas due to the nature of my consulting work, I am compelled to keep tabs on and use most of the relevant mainstream visual mapping products to have a choice of excellent product to use to get the job done.

As much as I use and abuse many products associated with Visual Mapping; the one aspect of absolute need that has not been delivered to me by these mentioned products to date is the expansion of their single file architecture into a database file architecture. I've harped on about this in previous posts and I'll do it again no doubt.

But it is true; For all the products I use, not one of them have escaped from the single file, so restrictive, architecture. Yes I had that WTF moment when I saw TheBrain, but now I am almost in love with the TheBrain product/service. It has transformed the way I create, manage and exchange my database existence and I have complete control.

So this blog title “Your knowledge companion”; I say TheBrain can and does become your knowledge companion after you get past the WTF first impression. Visit, download the product, play with it, become frustrated with it, discover the realities it contains for your knowledge handling and after you take a step back for a bit; realize it can become your most important knowledge companion.

TheBrain: it really is yours to discover