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Let's blame Mrs. Williams

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  • Let's blame Mrs. Williams

    I have some trouble getting a grip on what DA is trying to tell about why Mrs Williams would be to blame for the reactive planning model. And what's so bad about having some idea of what you're going to write about before writing things down. I don't think a report is the same as purpose and principles, so the comparison between the two doesn't seem to fit.

  • #2
    If I recall correctly, (I can't refer to the book, as I lent it to a family member and have yet to get it back!) the whole analogy has to do with planning AFTER something is completed. I remember back in my school days where teachers would want to see an outline along with the report. Well, frequently, this outline was done after the report was already written, or at least a first draft.

    Basically, these outlines were always meant to reflect the report, and they did, but essentially turned into more of a summary rather than an actual planning tool. Thus, we were always reacting, not actually planning. Instead of writing what we proposed to do, we were writing the full finished product first, and then "proposing it".

    Hope that helps.

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    • #3
      I don't know that David's argument is necessary predicated on outlines being bad per se. Rather, he rails against the idea (ostensibly taught by Mrs. Williams) that brainstorming must be linear. Outlining is a tremendous organizing tool, but clearly doesn't work for everyone in idea generation mode.

      I've not used mind mapping, but the assertion of Tony Buzan and others is that you can follow a branch of the mind map for a little while, then return to the center, regroup, and try a different approach. Some feel outlining during the brainstorming phase has the tendency to send you down one branch and leave you there. The power of outlining, then, is found in taking the random associations created during idea generation and putting them into a useful framework.

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      • #4
        There are two significant problems with outlining as it's usually taught.

        First, it's usually presented as a way to organize information that you already have, rather than a way to figure out what you need to discover. Obviously such an outline is completely useless for planning purposes.

        Second, there's an enormous emphasis on mechanics -- parallel construction, hierarchical structure, and so forth -- at the expense of any consideration of where that structure comes from. That is, outlines are presented as finished products, rather than tools, but students aren't given any alternative tools with which to build the outline. In particular, there's little or no recognition that creativity has any part to play in any of this.

        While a mind map is really just a different way of presenting an outline, every discussion of them that I've seen emphasizes their dynamic, organic nature. Mind map users have "official permission" to jump from branch to branch and rearrange things in a way that Mrs. Williams' hypothetical students often don't.

        Katherine

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        • #5
          For most problems, you just can’t beat

          1. mind map

          2. outline

          3. propagate


          When you start from zero, or when you are stuck, a basic mind map is more functional and effective than an outline.


          Using a simple skeleton mind map makes for effortless organization when planning and problem solving. It saves psychic energy for creativity and thinking of details. It manifests what you need to go forward.

          The act of putting an issue in the center and working in a radial fashion is enormously helpful for some reason too. The linear approach isn’t that great before the vast majority of what you need is all ready manifest. I don’t know why.

          After you get it all down on the mind map, reorganize it into an outline. (I think “all” point means you are more relaxed and happy because you got it all out of your head and the scope of the situation as you can see it now is largely manifest.) The linear line up of info makes it easy to go forward to propagate action lists, list projects, and create reference information.

          Simple mind maps are one of the best things I learned from GTD.

          I think the Buzan approach is overkill unless you need to retain something that is really complex or need an overview of something that’s really complex and dynamic.

          Having said that, I think the ideal GTD software would allow you to push a button and go back and forth between a linear view and a mind map view of projects, reference lists, and action lists. That might be the biggest advantage the Omni guys will have over the system wide to-do thing they might put in Leopard. Some GTD thingy called the “bubble planner” gave me that idea.

          FYI reminder: Action lists are supposed to be flat as possible and not outlines, but it probably might be better for some to see them as two-level mind maps sometimes. @Calls in the center, and one level of bubbles for the people you need to call etc.) I wonder if I’m not one of them. JMO.

          Someone should flesh-out mind mapping for note taking. I’m skeptical for students but it might be good in some business situations if you use the right approach. I don’t know.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by loocartlu
            Having said that, I think the ideal GTD software would allow you to push a button and go back and forth between a linear view and a mind map view of projects, reference lists, and action lists. That might be the biggest advantage the Omni guys will have over the system wide to-do thing they might put in Leopard. Some GTD thingy called the “bubble planner” gave me that idea.

            FYI reminder: Action lists are supposed to be flat as possible and not outlines, but it probably might be better for some to see them as two-level mind maps sometimes. @Calls in the center, and one level of bubbles for the people you need to call etc.) I wonder if I’m not one of them. JMO.
            The MindManager/ResultManager combination supports both of these. That's exactly why I initially started using it. (See my post on the triumph of paper for the reasons why I gave it up.)

            Katherine

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            • #7
              adding to the threads

              To add to the threads and appologies for my wordiness
              –Going all the way back to our brain - the mind is associational not linear (we remember to buy new batteries at the dead ones not at the convenience store as David says) A form of pre-outline idea dumping like mind mapping allows more associations to be “seen” on paper than creating a linear outline from scratch where you’re trying to be true to the outline’s sequential form (Title, main headings, subheadings etc.). Making an outline is ok but AFTER you’ve given yourself the chance to work the brain in the style it’s accustomed when generating ideas and thoughts. Perhaps Mrs. Williams should have included this in her lesson.

              That’s why for example, Inspiration Software has a “rapid fire” capability where you type the Title/Topic in the center of the Diagram page, click rapid fire and proceed to type- dump associated ideas as fast as they come to mind. Each idea remains linked to the original Title/Topic. You can also rapid fire linked ideas to any sub ideas you have generated.
              You then click “Outline” and all your ideas are dropped in outline form for you to then linearly organize, revise, or add to as you see fit.
              Don’t know if this feature (“Rapid Fire”) is available in other idea generation software so can’t comment there but I love the speed of it and increased productivity.

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