As you probably figured out if you follow me on Twitter, I had the pleasure of attending South by Southwest Interactive this year. (Only my second time, and the first since 2006.) I went to over 15 different panels and talks, and most were excellent. I did a lot of live-tweeting of the good ideas from them as @HASTAC (a shared work alter ego).
Only one session inspired me to actually take notes and it was the shortest one I attended. Visual Problem Solving: 5 Diagrams in 15 Minutes was led by Dean Myers who quickly demonstrated the use of 5 techniques for visualizing thought processes. I consider myself a mostly-visual thinker, but I’m also pretty linear/logical in my thought (and I can’t draw at all) so I’m a big fan of diagrams. I was familiar with most of these examples, but I really appreciated how they were presented as a toolbox, with the different advantages and features of each.
So with no further delay: here are my notes from this session. Sorry I haven’t had time to illustrate it visually as I should, so I am scanning in Dean’s hand out…
- Mind map
Starting with one central concept and iteratively branch out into related ideas, next steps, etc.
The SWOT matrix is a common example of this.
Two axes, eg strengths-weaknesses and opportunities-threats. includes opinions of the items (as opposed to mind map).
- System map
Like a Venn digram. Circles may be separate, overlapping, nested.
- Force field
Start with a big T, and create horizontal bars using the vert axis, showing how far each item is on the left and/or right of the scale. eg: Driving vs. restraining factors.
Can also use number values & add them up at the bottom.
Shapes with arrows, can also use photographs to illustrate, post-it notes for flexibility (can change or move them around).
- Personally, I love OmniGraffle for diagramming, but it’s Mac OS only and not free. Xmind was also recommended as an open source mind mapping tool. Wikipedia had a long list of tools which I should check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UML_tools
- memory jogger, PMBoK. http://goalqpc.com
- periodic table of visualization methods. http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html