Objects like diagrams, maps, and charts aren't one-size-fits-all. Play with them, adapt them, and expand on them for your own purposes.
The biggest mistake I see beginner sensemakers make is not expanding their toolbox of diagrammatic and mapping techniques.
There are thousands, maybe millions, of variations on the form, quality, and testing of diagrams and maps. And more are being created and experimented with each day.
The more diagrams you get to know, the more tools you have. The more ways you can frame the mess, the more likely you are to see the way through to the other side.
To help you build your toolbox, I've included ten diagrams and maps I use regularly in my own work.
As you review each one, imagine the parts of your mess that could benefit from reframing.
A Gantt chart depicts how processes relate to one another over time. Timelines, and project plans are both common examples of Gantt charts.
This type of chart helps us to understand relationships between people, tasks, and time.
When you set out to arrange something, how do you decide where the pieces go? Is it based on what looks right to you, what you believe goes together, or what someone told you to do? Or maybe you let gravity or the alphabet determine the order?
To effectively arrange anything, we have to choose methods for organizing and classifying content in ways that convey the intended information to our intended users.
Structural methods for organization and classification are called taxonomy.
Common examples of taxonomies include:
- The scientific classification for plants, animals, minerals, and other organisms
- The Dewey Decimal system for libraries
- Navigational tabs on a website
- Organizational charts showing management and team structures