If you have spent a few minutes at Mind-Mapping.Org or on this blog, you will know that I like and use mind maps and concept maps. You may not know I also use more formal visual models like data models, object-role modelling, and process simulation models. I find these immensely useful in understanding the way businesses work, improving businesses and finding ways to solve problems.
One modelling tool I learned about last year, Southbeach Notation, has grabbed more of my attention. Someone emailed me and asked why Southbeach Modeller was not in the Master List, and I slapped my forehead and asked myself the same question, because I had known about it for around a year.
This may not have the whizz-bang visual effects of some tools covered here, but it is practical, and produces a visual result that gives a good overview, and guides where effort should be focused as a problem-solving project proceeds.
Southbeach Modeller is a free tool which, by itself, is a powerhouse. That’s it above. There is another tool, MyCreativity, which extends the capabilities of Modeller and is not free.
Southbeach Notation does not solve problems for you, but it does make it much easier to apply your thinking to the things that matter, methodically and effectively. The SouthBeachInc site says “Southbeach extends typical problem solving, innovation and TRIZ notations yet remains simple enough to be able to be drawn by hand. The notation is often drawn on flip charts, paper notebooks and on table napkins. … [and, the story goes, with a stick in the sand on South Beach itself]
Many users start with just red and green boxes – ‘useful’ and ‘harmful’ – and only two effects – ‘produces’ and ‘counteracts’. This is not just for management consultants, analysts and methodologists. Children can, and do, use Southbeach.”
TRIZ is a problem-solving and product improvement method that originated in the Soviet Union in the 1940s and has been widely adopted since.
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There is a quick summary – a visual summary, naturally – of the notation here:
Or you can click the image in the left to see the full-size version of the summary image.
There is extensive information on the web about the notation, but a blog with example diagrams would be a good starting point.
My thanks to Mark Burnett for permission to use the images here. Mark was one of the founders of Southbeach Notation and is the Head of IT Strategy & Transformation at BearingPoint in the UK.