books,, somedaymaybe

Panchatantra in VUE

Fable sets like Panchatantra are best performed with music and in the local language and a conducive setting. My intent is to recreate it with plain visuals, in VUE. All in all the exercise was satisfying, and I am happy with the outcome. Layers of narrative arising from the frame story, the complications of characterization and continuity becomes visible when done this way. The aim was not to give away stories which I strongly recommend for reading or hearing. I am not one to steal the thrill of hearing a good fable first hand, but rather to see how the fable will move from one to other in a map. I feel the use such a visual is only as an aid to performance. Click the image to see a larger version.

Panchatantra Book 4 Loss of Gains

Panchatantra Book 4 Loss of Gains

Loss of Gains is the smallest of the books in Panchatantra, I will need a long holiday to do the others where the number of layers are far higher than this. #somedaymaybe…


Comparing Online Concept Mapping Tools

Having an office laptop with no admin privileges forced me to look beyond VUE for my concept mapping and representation needs. While the list of undifferentiated features are high, there are certain features that still makes you say yes to a specific tool despite compromises. My evaluation criteria is very personal, features like real time collaboration with multiple authors or sharing in social media, import from freemind, images are not so relevant for me, as my use is specific to one facilitation or representation usually.

Feature Creately Diagramly Lucidchart
Search (search across both node and link texts)Stencils or templates (for shapes and standards across map types)

Multiple links across nodes (not just one link between nodes)

No separate sign up (google/facebook/twitter connects)

Export to picture formats (png, jpg)

All morphologies

(unlike regular mindmapping softwares with one central node and branching out)

Sticky Nodes (connections retained when you move/format)

Yes Yes Yes
Rapid prototyping (with just clicks from nodes, without drag drops and separate linking) Yes Shape repeats and no choice on the new node shape Yes Shape repeats and no choice on the new node shape Yes Better than the other 2 with the prompt for the new node shape
Link form (linear, orthognol, free form) All forms Rounded orthogonal works for most instances No free form links All forms and I really like the curves in Lucid, as we can create the maps without links cris-crossing with them. Multi pivots possible
Google Docs Integration (saved as picture) No Yes Convenient No
Export to xml (formats vary by tool) Yes Yes No
Import from same tool xml Yes Yes Only visio with limited guarantees for proI did not try this here
Save map as model/template(model maps are useful when concept maps are refined in stages or with many inputs) No No Yes

PS: I chose lucid finally and with a huge compromise on diagramly’s google docs integration.


Notes on Knowledge Continuity

I was part of a content creation for the bspin conference recently held at Bangalore on Knowledge Continuity. These notes of mine which were part of the first version which got morphed into totally something else when we finished. I felt there were some key points here that may interest Knowledge Managers. So here it goes…

Knowledge Continuity 3 D

Business continuity (for target vectors like performance, functionality, availability, ability to change, etc in IT Services) is provisioned by Knowledge continuity.

Knowledge Continuity cuts across 3 dimensions

1. People Interface/Relationships

· Such as between roles that work only in few phases (tester, BA, Architect) or between vendor and business user

2. Time

· Such as tenure in domain/account/technology

3. Content

· Such as standard operating procedures and heuristics of how experts handle crisis and how it is traded or exchanged

Common reasons that lead to loss of continuity include

1. Forgetting

2. Attrition

3. Too much or too little governance/processes

KM Strategy

Knowledge management as a strategy for achieving continuity intervenes by each of these dimensions

1. Interface: Building newer relationships across diverse groups

· Participative culture builds relationships and sustains rituals

· Diverse (not in bred) relations are formed as part of social network stimulation

2. Time: Bridging gap between expert and novice

· High Cost Experienced Resource versus Profitability equation

· Concept mapping and expertise transfer as methods to reduce time to become expert in the knowledge domain

3. Content: Sustained Knowledge creation socially

· Wiki as a preferred tool, how peer review helps in increasing quality of wikis, differences between closed and open wikis

· Structured Story Listening methods and AARs (after action reviews)

Success Determinants

Success of such KM strategy will be determined by the following

1. Culture prevalent in the enterprise, specifically drivers that create habits

2. Information and Communications Technology and its social utility value (the bargain)

3. People Policies


Community Stimulation Ideas 1

I presented the below concept map to one of our client managers for stimulating a community. We did an ideation afterwards and came up with ideas relevant to each facet of the map. This post is a listing of some of those ideas.

To start with I am picking members and their identity, this is one of the most important foundation of the entire community movement itself. Without a shared sense of identity and purpose there is no community action, but it is necessary for us to keep them independent. Example, A local Rajinikanth fan club (the identity) might take up a community drinking water project (the purpose). In IT Services industry we tend to overlay identity and purpose a lot and hence neither becomes magnified well enough for action.

Subroto has this ‘twice away’ rule, that the purpose should be for someone who is twice removed from the community like a ‘customer’s customer’. This rule makes you keep the identity and purpose distinct in a natural way. There have been communities within MindTree that have used this in their roadmap specifically Technical Leadership community.

Here are the ideas on identity

  1. Creating a visual identity, these could be logos, icons, website themes, etc
    1. Better will be to allow the community to come up with its own images
  2. In addition to the visual identity catering to other senses like having a slogan or tag line
  3. Gift these logos in forms that can be used, worn, shown, carried around. I call these ‘props’ these can include mouse pads, bags, pens, vendor ware type t-shirts, mugs, etc
  4. Have the community identity/logo printed in business cards
  5. Introduce members to the community in a rigorous schedule like 3 per week and continuously for 30 weeks. There are several ways to do this
    1. having a standard set of 5 questions and leaving the last question for the member to ask and answer
    2. Sabre asks its employees their hometown while profiling and that is a strong identity
    3. Including a personal version of the vision from every member
    4. Asking specialization while introducing
    5. Allowing for self declaration of expertise
  6. Building expert locator page from above introductions
  7. Have a competency mapping that is not more than 2 levels
  8. In a loosely connected virtual world it is unfair to assume that members will only use your community space, poll for where majority members are and move your community action there
  9. If members are participating in external discussions or conferences magnify them internally. Example that is popular is participation in forums, commenting on external blogs etc
  10. (Re-)Publish case studies of members that are openly available, this will add value and recognition to the virtual space in the set identities
  11. Allow and finance members to take field trips to proximal domain areas in academics or industry. Supply chain community will want to spend a day in UPS to see what is their supply chain process like.
  12. Arrange academics to come in and present new concepts to the community
  13. Identify local chapters of larger communities and get invites for events to members
    1. Get active members to go together
    2. After the event get them to present it internally
  14. Find and encourage behavior of active members. Move peripheral members to participate with one action example is marking “like”, rating content etc
  15. If a member is active, remove any road blocks to further activity
  16. Publish non-intrusively about member activity, live feeds, activity streams are doable
  17. Give active and central members role to play in strategy and plan meetings
  18. Identify at least 5 heartbeat measures example sessions, views on site, discussion responses, connects, new members, introductions, newsletters etc
    1. Support all of them
    2. Set targets for all of them and follow up rigorously
  19. Empower financially to the allowed maximum as per budget
  20. Identify a social object that members relate to

    You have more ideas? please do comment…


    Concept Map versus Mind Map

    I had written about maps that I use earlier, in the below presentation I distinguish between Mind Maps and Concept Maps and lay out a simple method based on Crandall, Klein et al’s Working Minds. This activity can be done individually or in groups. The test for checking if you have succeeded in teaching the method would be the following
    “without the concept map creator explaining are readers of the map able to get the crux of the domain in focus”
    the next level
    “after the creator explaining, does that lead to more connections internally on the domain in focus”


    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.