Attacking Concept Mapping

Complexity is fascinating. When I say complexity i’m talking about all of the details that exist at every level of zoom on a sector, service public, problem, or product. The exponential growth of complexity and the way it is weaving into the tapestry of our lives is pretty ridiculous. In every interaction, the interdependence on at least half a dozen other systems is present. I cannot help but see this. My mind does it now automatically. There is a succession to everything, everything you do, see, smell, eat, play with, work on, everything. It is most often times, not explicit what the steps were to bring you the experience you’re having. To be able to make sense of it, though, and communicate the sense you made is a different ball game altogether.

This brings me to our Rapid Ideation and Complex Problem Solving class where we are creating a concept map, a sensemaking tool, to be able to understand the ins and outs of the AT&T mobile application. Like I said, I observe the worldly systems with scrutiny but have not done so as much with mobile applications. My approach with apps is generally, go in, understand what I need to understand, and get out. Especially with an application as monotonous as AT&T. It has been intriguing applying that systems level observation to the mobile space and seeing that, just like in larger systems, each step is so vastly important when every furthering step is building off of the last. In concept mapping the goal is to express the relationship each function has with each other function. In the first iteration the line between literal connections and informative connections was hard to find and balance. My first creation was speaking to the literal flow of actions within the app. ‘From ____ you access _____ to get to _____ type of connections.’

myAT&T Concept Map

Through critique I came to understand that concept maps were, more so, used to illustrate the breakdown of topics underneath an umbrella topic (in this context AT&T) and the relationships and impact that they all have on each other. Which informed me I needed to take a few more passes of iteration. I think affinity mapping helped with the second phase of this process. It allowed me to more easily pick up on subtle similarities and connections outside of the literalness. Why are two things connected outside of all obvious surface level descriptors?

And after multiple iterations that thought process brought me here:

AT&T Concept Map v4

Overall, I learned that complexity is easily harnessable with the right tools and some thorough analysis of what is important. I’m looking forward to reversing the utilization of concept mapping to foster optimal states of flow that naturally make sense.