Visualisation of knowledge.

Posted: August 11, 2012 in E20, SocialBiz

Technical sounding title I know but really it’s all about showing information (knowledge) in a graphical way. It’s a technique that, in my experience, is highly regarded let little used.

I was leading a workshop a while back with IT and Marketing coming together to map the user journey for a new application. For me this is one of the first steps to designing the application, understanding how we expect to go from point A (download and open the app perhaps) to point Z (redeem, check out etc) and provides the building blocks for both the programmers and the creative teams.

In the workshop the first thing I did was open Visio, started asking questions and mapping it into a simple workflow. This simple visualisation technique highlighted 2 things. First, it really brought to the fore the differences in people thinking of how the user will travel the app. Secondly, as the workflow unfolded there was lots of “Ahhs”, “wows” and “I need to learn to do this” simply because the visual map conveyed so much information. At the end of the workshop we had something tangible to share with other stakeholders.

I often refer back to this excellent tool that highlights, in a periodic table format, the different visualisation techniques you can use. It’s  little old now and could perhaps be refreshed a little but I think it’s still worth the look. It lists out the commonly known gannt charts, mind maps, simple tables & pie charts. It also lists out the techniques you have probably seen and intuitively understand (that’s the beauty of visual techniques) but may not have in your kit bag.

I’m going to set myself a challenge to use at least once each of the techniques over the next 12months. It’ll no doubt require some adaptation to fit my needs but I’m sure by doing so i’ll achieve at least 3 things:

  1. A better understanding of the technique
  2. A better understanding of the process / topic / relationship I’m trying to understand
  3. A helpful way to convey knowledge in a simple meaningful way.

Here’s a few videos from Martin Eppler at, a researcher in knowledge management, visualisation & communication, to explain some of the benefits of these techniques.

What visualisation tools do you use? I’d love to hear some use cases for the various tools and where they have worked or perhaps didnt work so well.


A few colleagues have provided the following links via LinkedIn.

[End Edit]



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