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Matt Whyndham

Nice look at how the structure of diagrams can illustrate thinking, and influence it as well.

I find then whenever there is a computer-drafted diagram is use, interactivity (argument, dialogue, suggestion) is often suppressed as a result, unless the thing is live in a meeting.

Ian Glendinning

I'm sceptical that going beyond crayons to mind-manager is necessarily progress .... often the impression of formality mis-represents the original subtler message.

As you indicate above, the choice of "formal" layout influences the message and is part of the choice of layout "for a given purpose". I gave up on mind-manager in truly complex situations because the choice of "seemingly" hierarchical nodes gave them unfair precedent over the vaguer wiggly cross-links. The choice pre-empts the analysis.

Nick Duffill

Ian - you make a good point, bnt moving from crayons to MindManager is not "better" or "worse", but "different". Issues arise if one is expected to substitute for the other. The key is to exploit the features and limits of the hierarchical diagram, rather than hope it will be as effective as a network. In the above example, this is done by extracting focus and a path to action out of a flat network.

Ian Glendinning

Nick, so you were saying the "funnel timeline" is taking a time-based priority in the hierarchical / mind-manager view - even though the original system was a "flat" network.

That's OK - the choice of the primary "time" axis is clearly not arbitrary in a planning situation (and I like timelines for other narrative / historical reasons).

I guess what I was saying is that the real "work" is done by capturing the known / perceived data in arbitrary / flat network, and the process of constructing the mind-manager view from it. Mind-manager itself seems to display the result, rather than being used as the tool to create it ?

The other point is that "time" - ie the precedent of cause and effect - seems to be a non-contentious choice of hierarchical axis. However in complex systems the causality and dependency may be not be simply one-way, depending on the objects chosen to represent the nodes or edges in the first place ?

Just thinking out loud here - I am interesting in tools to improve such analyses.

Nick Duffill

Ian - the term "timeline" is logical rather than actual, and the use of the tree to visualise dependencies is a shorthand for the more commonly used relationships.
I am not aware of any automated way to create Funnel Timeline maps from another network, so MindManager is the tool used to both create and interpret it. To automate the generation of a Funnel Timeline map would require some arbitrary decisions where a task had multiple dependencies, and the resulting network could be technically correct but not "common sense".
The hierarchical nature of the map is used in two ways in Funnel Timeline maps; one to visualise inherited properties such as ownership and priority, and secondly to show dependencies. In one sense, some of the completion criteria of a task can be inherited by its predecessors; if Task A must finish by date X, then by definition none of the predecessors of task A can finish later than X. So drawing projects in hierarchical trees is not too exotic.
But mainly the funnel timeline layout is intended to be an easy way to visualise and manipulate simple projects without resorting to "proper" project management software. It never clicks with some users, but others love it. It is a very interactive and tactile way to sort tasks into order.

nicolas stampf


though mindmaps are a powerful tool (mainly because of the right brain/viszualization part), I don't think one should force everything into them (though a lot can already be turned into MM !).

As for networks (systems !), there are software (even free one) that's designed for this such as Vensim, iThink, Stella, etc (see http://systemswiki.org/index.php?title=Simulation_Software)


Good post, the funnel timeline is an interesting approach. I have seen this kind of hting before but never really used it. It is something that I am looking into to integrate into my studies and learning. Thanks for the post.

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