By: Leanne Armstrong
We all know a picture is worth a thousand words – especially when you’re trying to get your message across quickly and succinctly. Communicating knowledge inside your organization is no different. Whether you’re managing a project, brainstorming with your team, or taking part in a new company initiative, being able to rely on a solid knowledge visualization process is a major advantage.
Using imagery to communicate both abstract and concrete ideas is nothing new (cave paintings stretch back tens of thousands of years, after all) but many of the visual interfaces we use today are. Modern knowledge mapping software, for example, is one of the most effective ways for two or more people to share and direct information in a meaningful way.
The knowledge visualization process includes:
- Nailing down your knowledge goals.
- Collaborating visually.
- Rearranging shared information.
- Introducing stored knowledge.
- Inviting others to contribute data.
In this article, we’ll walk you through 5 basic knowledge visualization steps and a simple example of how visualizing information can make any knowledge-driven endeavor more productive.
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Visualizing structured knowledge unlocks its potential
Knowledge management is all about ensuring the right information is available to the right people at the right time. Knowledge mapping, meanwhile, is one of the best processes for gathering, creating, and organizing that information.
But what happens when you want to:
- Reclaim hard-won process and procedural data that’s been captured by your organization, or
- Facilitate project goals by accessing facts, experience, or new ideas still locked away inside team members’ heads?
In either case, you can better clarify direction, inspire more pointed action, and drive more impactful results by running stored information and expectations through a knowledge visualization process.
Tap into shared knowledge with visualization tools
Visualizing knowledge helps you share data and concepts in a way that makes them easier to understand and implement.
Using illustrative tools like digital mind maps, flowcharts, and diagrams to exchange information with colleagues and coworkers, for example:
- Helps partners or groups explore each other’s ideas more thoroughly
- Provides new insights
- Promotes the kind of interaction that turns knowledge into action
Whatever the objective at hand, you’ll find that setting up a knowledge visualization process helps move work forward in a more fluid and timely way – whether you’re teaching a course, outlining product development, or conveying a technical process to management.
5 knowledge visualization steps
Following these steps for setting up a basic framework of knowledge visualization – with the help of a knowledge mapping system like MindManager – will ultimately:
- Take the muddle out of potentially confusing data
- Enhance comprehension and learning
- Fuel an innovative system that lets you build new ideas on previous knowledge
Sound good? Let’s get started.
Step 1: Nail down your knowledge goals.
Do you want to plan a group project, brainstorm ideas with your team, construct a timeline for shared tasks, outline a work strategy with a colleague? Knowing exactly what you need to accomplish will help you choose the right visual interface.
Step 2: Collaborate visually.
A dynamic platform like MindManager is ideal for visual thinking. Use built-in flowcharts, idea maps, timelines, and diagramming tools to make it easier for everyone to organize their thoughts and exchange information in a way that makes sense. Once you’ve chosen the most appropriate templates, you and your teammate(s) can start sharing.
Step 3: Rearrange shared information.
Knowledge visualization processes aren’t just effective because they support the rapid exchange of information, they’re also highly interactive. You can optimize the impact of shared data on goals by evaluating, organizing, and rearranging your information as it’s laid out.
Step 4: Introduce stored knowledge.
Every organization hosts a storehouse of knowledge assets like process documentation, contact lists, email templates, instructional videos, and experienced personnel. Use your company’s knowledge maps to find resources relevant to your process (or track them down manually) and integrate them into the mix to maximize your results.
Step 5: Invite others to contribute data.
With MindManager, every aspect of your concept, plan, or idea can be viewed in real time from a single interface. You can choose to build out the project visualization process at this point by inviting key personnel to weigh in and tweak or add to knowledge details.
Putting your framework of knowledge visualization to work
To give you a better idea of how the knowledge visualization steps outlined here play out when they’re put to work, consider this simplified example of a knowledge set-up and management system you can adapt and reuse as required.
Let’s say you and a friend or colleague are new to remote working. You’ve both been learning as much as you can about setting yourself up for success from a home-based work environment. Now you want to use the knowledge visualization process to pool and make use of that information.
According to our 5 simple steps, the first thing you and your cohort should do is determine your overall goals:
- Do you have a deadline for setting up your remote work environment?
- Are you short on ideas about the type of equipment you require?
- Do you need a roadmap that will get you efficiently from Point A (information overload) to Point B (remote workspace up and running)?
Once you know what you need to achieve, you can take advantage of visual tools like digital timelines and Gantt charts to schedule your time, brainstorming maps to add to your equipment knowledge, or flowcharts and swim lane diagrams to outline the steps to remote working success.
Making the most of what you know
Now that you’ve chosen the most appropriate visualization tools for collaborating with your buddy and meeting your joint objectives, you can move on to ensuring both of you benefit from everything you’ve read, learned, or deduced about remote working as individuals.
You could start, for example, by mapping out what each of you knows about staying positive, connected, and focused while working from home.
Integrating your research
If you’ve gathered external information resources that are worth including in your knowledge visualization process, this is the time to include them.
Perhaps one or both of you have run across:
- Relevant blog articles
- Reviews of computer equipment or office furniture
- Special offers for digital communication packages or free trial software
- Tips for staying physically and mentally healthy while working from home
Add and share Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, videos, images, links to relevant websites and more to help flesh out your framework of knowledge.
Adding the personal touch
Now that you’ve got everything you need to know in one place – and you’ve organized your various tips, techniques, and other data into an orderly remote-working approach – you may want to give your shared knowledge base one final pass by inviting feedback from experienced home-based professionals.
Do you have friends, colleagues, or family members who are already part of a remote work team? Perhaps you’ve had successful working relationships with freelancers or contract-based professionals in the past.
Specialists and experienced personnel are invaluable knowledge resources. Integrate their contact information into your knowledge visualization process, or contact them directly to see if they’d be willing to review and add to your home-based work concept.
Remember: not only will putting the knowledge visualization process to work help you get knowledge out of a storage system or think tank – and in front of the eyes of team members – by making it easy for every knowledge user to understand exactly where things stand, you can clear the path forward and get stalled plans or projects moving again.