More Maps

After joining my current job, when I started "Knowledge Mapping" I have encountered and applied several other maps. I want to leave a record here of a few that I have been practicing.

Mind Map to Concept Map

Mind Map is basically a flowery diagram that helps you remember a "linear" hierarchy of concepts but without any cross linkages. Tony Buzan made this famous with case studies like "when I was a student, I had this hard course I had to take and when I started adopting mind maps for taking class notes it became so much more easier and recall just before exam was so good I became the university topper". This is great and there are so many tools available including the clunky but popular FreeMind

and tools like MindMeister available over the internet with a simple registration or as device apps.

As I said Mind Map is linear hierarchy that does not allow cross linkages, so to represent a domain that is complex you need support for all hierarchies and relationships, which is what concept map does. You can form meaningful propositions and make sense of a complex domain easily. My faith in concept map was reinforced specifically by 2 sources

1. Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) work done by Gary Klein and others who have been propagating concept map as a standard way to represent knowledge domains

2. Ed Rogers CKO NASA who visited us last year, was doing the entire presentation from a single concept map and NASA also applies concept map internally a lot.

Nowadays all my presentations have at least one concept map (around 6-10 slides get represented in 1 concept map) , I use VUE in rapid prototyping mode to create the representations quickly

Here is a reproduction of a concept map (on concept map) from Working Minds

that is one of the greatest references for CTA.

Perception Map

Recently we did a conversation based training on Perception map. This is a powerful technique when it comes to dealing with perceptions on highly sensitive or people oriented issues within teams. It lets you define the core issue more clearly, as people problems gets cloudy when the number of perceptions gets beyond 3 (another limit of our pre-frontal cortex)

I am particularly interested how the teams actually do the mapping, after perceptions are collected and de-duped. In my opinion, you can enforce a lot of rules into this, or you can simply let it emerge by constraining the leads to step (one perception can only lead to one other perception not more). All sorts of collectors, loops and conflicts surface and it is fun to watch as this happens in groups. Making this step anonymous helps, with managers or other leaders excluded from the meeting.

Tree Map

When you look at a visual there are only 3 cues actually, 1. relative size of the object 2. the color of the object in relation to others and 3. the text that is there in the object. If it is a representation of some form of flow then you will have connectors, but tree map is not suited for those. Tree map is suited when you have a hierarchy of data elements and you want to drill down layer after layer in that data set. I use it for parsing our internal MIS reports and make sense and to decide where to put the focus effort.

I think I encountered tree map first in Many Eyes but started using the tree map application of UMD

Story Map

I got interested in story maps when our user centric design community

floated a session. The concept is as simple as a time line on a specific user action (I will call this The Spine) and you will have multiple user stories that is mapped against the spine. Key take away is not just that, you can actually classify based on user need and from this plan which story will be developed in a Sprint cycle.


2 thoughts on “More Maps

  1. Pingback: Concept Map versus Mind Map « Cognitive Noise

  2. Pingback: Important but Tough to Measure « Cognitive Noise

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