Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mapping ideas, network, relationships

Since 1993 I've been collecting information that anyone in Chicago or the world could use to support their own efforts to “create a better world”. I've been using GIS maps to show where programs supporting youth and families are needed and concept maps to show strategy, steps to achieve goals, network needed, etc.

I started using power point to create visualizations showing ideas and information available in my library back in the 1990s. I started putting this info on line in 1998. If you do a Google search for the words “tutor mentor” then click on images, you can see dozens of images that I've embedded in blog articles, web sites and other posts over the past 15 years. If you visit you can see a library of some of these. Browse the various sections of and the blog and you can see more.

I launched this strategy map on line in 2005. Each node on this map expands to open a new page in the strategy map. Interns have created animated versions of this and other maps, helping expand understanding of the ideas.

The blue box at the top of the graphic represents the commitment of myself, or any other leader, to on-going actions that help youth born in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers, with the support of volunteers and staff in well-organized, long-term, tutor/mentor type programs.

In 2011 David Price of Debategraph encouraged me to embed this information on his platform. The graphic below can be accessed at Click on any node and the map reforms with information related to that node.

This map has layers showing information in the Tutor/Mentor library. It's intended to support a conversation about ways people from every sector can “help youth move from living in poverty to jobs” as a result of long-term mentoring and a age appropriate learning supports. It's intended to support a conversation based on “what are all the things we need to be doing” that leads a growing number of people to take actions based on what they are learning.

As more information was added, the map became more complex, and thus fewer and fewer people were willing to view the map and, thus, use the information.

In other articles on this blog I've focused on network building and network mapping. Who are the people who should be looking at the information I've collected and who are the people who should be helping tutor/mentor programs grow in more places? How do we know who is involved? How do we expand involvement from year to year and sustain it over many years? This “village” map is one graphic intended to communicate this idea.

Recently I've connected with Gene Bellinger and a variety of other visualization innovators in groups on Linked in. I've shared my enthusiasm for systems thinking and idea mapping in articles like this one.

Through this I learned about another mapping platform called KUMU. I showed my interest in this in another article shown here

Yesterday I viewed a new video where Gene and Jeff talk about using KUMU which you can see below.

I hope you'll view this, and look at my own efforts to map networks, ideas and relationships. I really think this has huge potential and want to create some KUMU maps that would show the information in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, as well as the information on the Debategraph map.

What appeals to me in this video is the ability to map networks of people and organizations, as well as the ability to sequence and relate ideas in ways others might follow along. If we can use these tools to identify who “is already involved” and to build “roadmaps” of actions that lead to more and better programs in the right places, helping youth through school and into jobs, this information can support millions of users, and provide a template for solving other social, environmental, health issues around the world.

I've worked under the “if you build it, they will come” mentality for 20 years since I never was able to find long-term partners and/or funders for the Tutor/Mentor Connection when I was first trying to build support in 1992 and 1993. I've had help from hundreds of people, but none have provided time, talent and dollars for the long term. Some who did give support were forced to stop due to business conditions, or changes in their own focus.

I just read an article in Fortune magazine about the property developers responsible for Silicon Valley. When they stated they had a few thousand dollars but the vision of what farmland could become if they put buildings on the property and found tenants. They are now billionaires. I'm energized to see that “if you build it, they will come” has actually worked for some people.

While I've attracted many positive comments, many interested parties, and more than 1 million visitors (and 15 million hits) to my web sites, this has been an effort to “find a needle in a world size haystack”. I know there are other people who share the same passion. We've just not connected.

I've created dozens of concept maps like the ones above that I feel could be converted to KUMU and communicated the same way Gene is sharing ideas in his videos. I think people could discuss the meaning of the maps, add new information, and form collaborations to apply the thinking in support of youth and families in their own communities, not just in Chicago.

I could convert the Debategraph by myself but I'm trying to resist this. I want to find partners in one or more universities, networks, companies, etc. who will not only provide the manpower, talent and dollars to do this work, but will take active roles in sharing this with the goal of putting the ideas to work over the next 20 years.

If you're at a university, part of a service learning project, or a company or foundation that supports this thinking please reach out and help me do this work.

Note: 7/7/2017 update  - here's an article that applies systems thinking, concept mapping and theory of change ideas, using as the mapping tool.  I've added this link to a section of the Tutor/Mentor web library, while also posting it here.

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