3 fun visuals for decision making - Show and Tell Tuesday part 2

Welcome back to my Show and Tell Tuesday series of fun visuals to know and use! This week's visuals are for making decisions. Since we are often using our imaginations to determine best choices, I think visuals can be a very powerful way to both access information and recognize opportunities.

Mind map

Most of us are familiar with this type of visual, but we may not be using it very often. I would like to introduce it here as a tool for exploring choices, though it is generally used to organize information to serve all sorts of purposes.

First, some tips:

  • Start with a central idea that best describes the essential question that needs to be answered

  • Try using images or symbols instead of just words

  • Use thick lines to emphasize important connections

  • Use colors for grouping themes

  • Keep practicing to develop a style that best meets your needs

Here is an example for helping me decide what to focus on this week (created with mindmeister.com):


Decision tree

This tool is for modeling decisions and their possible outcomes to identify the strategies most likely to reach a goal. It not only simplifies complex situations but also generates new insights and possibilities. It is best used when there is more certainty and specificity such as with financial decisions (if there's less, use the mind map).

It generally has three types of nodes:

  • Decision nodes represented by squares or rectangles

  • Chance nodes represented by circles

  • End nodes represented by triangles


Strategy canvas

This powerful tool allows one to simplify and communicate strategic plans. It also has the potential to help move focus away from competitors towards one's own opportunities as well as away from those currently being served to those who could be served.

The horizontal axis identifies competitive factors (such as price, services, benefits, etc.), and the vertical axis captures the extent to which these are offered. Once connected, plotted points reveal each organization's unique place in the market.

To demonstrate that this tool is useful beyond for-profit businesses, rather than comparing individual organizations I have created an example that compares generalities among sectors (created with strategycanvas.org): 


Can you guess which of the lines above correspond to foundations, nonprofits, government, social enterprises, and small businesses?

For more in this series, see: