Sunday 23 September 2012

Switch to new blog side

I changed my blog side. It is now integrated into my webpage New material will be published there. Old material is converted manually. Therefore not everything is available yet through my "new" blog side.
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Saturday 5 May 2012

Flying Logic for Visual Thinking

Some time ago, I was pointed towards a software tool called "Flying Logic" from Sciral. I was told that Flying Logic would support to plan backwards from the goal. I like software that helps me to display my thoughts (I call that "Visual Thinking") and I fully subscribe to the thinking backwards idea (famously promoted by Stephen Covey's "7 habits for highly successful people" as "Begin with the End in Mind"). 

The structure of this post
Therefore I downloaded the software and used the 30 days trial to play a bit around. Flying Logic is actually a tool that maintains a directed graph. Each node of the graph has a type that is shown as a description. Therefore you can have a "goal" node or an "action" node. This is very simple and you can only influence the colour of the node frame based on the type. Flying Logic auto-layouts the graph without giving you many possibilities to influence the graph. The focus is clearly on clarity - not on creating the nicest graphs. But the result is decent. You can use these facilities to create your own node types and therefore to create your own thinking "grammar". As an example, I tried to prepare this blog entry based on a simple grammar using "Fact", "My part of the story", and "Conclusion". It isn't the perfect grammar yet, but it allowed me to arrange the pieces of this entry first visually before the writing. Which was for once fast and straightforward. On the support page you can see that other people use the tool for areas like web-page design where they use their own custom-designed grammar to plan a webpage.  

Flying Logic has a set of already defined grammars "out-of-the-box". Those grammars are mainly related to "Theory of Constraints" (TOC). TOC is a so-called management philosophy. Thankfully, Flying Logic comes with an eBook explaining TOC. Whilst what I read was really interesting I quickly found out that the eBook is very dense, i.e. packed with information. Hooked as I was I started to map out the content of the book and created a TOC mindmap - another way of "Visual Thinking". By now I use Flying Logic regularly and use my mindmap as a guide to the eBook and to TOC. 

Mindmap: Theory of Constraints with Flying Logic
TOC provides different model types that help you focus on different aspects. Two of these models are the "Current Reality Tree", which is used to analyse the weaknesses of the current situation, and the "Future Reality Tree", which is used to envision a future solution. The latter, the Future Reality Tree, is actually the model type that let to me learning about Flying Logic. You start with the goal and analyse from there backwards how to achieve that goal. The provided grammar helps to think in a constructive way.

Overall, Flying Logic is a simple tool that allows you to display your thoughts. It comes with strong support for a backward thinking ("Begin with the End in Mind") due to the underlying theoretical framework TOC. My understanding to the framework is available here as a mindmap. But Flying Logic is not limited to the framework and you can easily create your own graphs types. The tool isn't cheap, but it was worth the money for me.