Visualizing your Solutions: Mind Maps and Wireframe Diagrams

Let me start this post out with a huge thanks to Rene (aka @vcdx133) and Melissa (aka @vmiss33) who has been very helpful with me getting from idea to diagram/document using these tips. Having a simple template to start things off with becomes the best way to get Visualization helps your ideas become more clear because it forces you to see the relationships between things, and to do the physical process of drawing them out on paper and/or using a digital platform. Before you think you need to be an AutoCAD, or even a Visio export, you have to learn to quickly get ideas drafted out.

There have been many days where I stared at a blank diagram software screen and fought with how to get it to work in a nice way using the product when what I should have done is to start with just sketching it out in rough format first. This goes to the classic phrase “don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough” When you need to take the thought process from ideation to visualization, there are many tools and techniques that can help you. The most popular ones I use nearly every day are:

  • Paper sketches
  • Mind Maps
  • Diagram Tools: Visio, OmniGraffle, PowerPoint

Each has a distinct purpose in the process.

Paper Sketches

This is one that Melissa (aka @vmiss33) has taught me to leverage more and more. When you want to get started on an idea, just break out a pencil or pen, and some paper. Scratch diagrams and sketches take your idea and put them into a visual form. This helps you think about how to visualize it before you go diving into OmniGraffle or Visio and find yourself searching shape catalogs for hours and getting frustrated. Scratch pads and notebooks are excellent for both words and diagrams. As you write out and sketch out things, your mind is forced to connect the physical motor act with the thought process. This helps to enhance learning and to get closer to a result for you with your ideas. I’ve also gotten some really nice notebooks which I enjoy using. Rhodia is one type that have very nice paper and lots of different styles. My favourite to use is engineering paper or graph paper style.

Mind Maps

Whether it’s a site map you want to work out, some ideas and related content/thoughts, or just general brainstorming, mind maps are also a great tool for taking verbal and thought processes and putting them to paper easily. Start with your core idea/thought and then branch out from there using simple mind map diagrams. There are lots of resources online to help you as you learn to use this technique to expand on your ideas. MindNode is a product I use for the Mac, but there are many different products which you can find online. The goal is really just to adopt the practice first and then you can use this for both self-ideation as well as for collaboration. A project manager who I worked with for years taught me the value of quickly scribing down discussion ideas for project planning using a mind map which has served me well over the years.

Diagram Tools

Before you think you need to be creating perfect diagrams with visually-stunning graphics, start with the basics. Wireframe diagrams can be easily drafted out as a digital version of your earlier sketches. You can choose the level you want your graphic quality to be, but the best diagrams I’ve used and created are ones that I modelled after a template that I got from Rene Van Den Bedem (aka @vcdx133). Using a seemingly simple diagram format means you concentrate on the content. Once the content is completed and your idea is committed to a diagram, you can then tune the graphic style all you want. The first step is moving from concept in your head to the concept in a diagram. Products I’ve used include OmniGraffle, Microsoft Visio, and even Microsoft PowerPoint can be quite handy for doing such diagrams. Hopefully these are helpful tips for you as much as they were for me.

The Goal Graphic Novel is here!

As a long-time fan of all things related to the Theory of Constraints, I was extremely pleased and honored to be able to join the early review program for The Goal: A Business Graphic Novel.  This book has been the foundation of so much that has driven manufacturing to new levels and then into any of a number of industries which have also benefitted from the concepts from the writings of Eli Goldratt.

The format is very interesting because the book itself is a very character-driven story.  The narrative comes across very well in the graphic novel format, so if you’re a fan of this style of reading then The Goal in graphic format will definitely be one to add to your collection.

The next book I can definitely see going this way would be The Phoenix Project.  The story of the Phoenix Project is a derivative of the style and teachings of The Goal with the focus on DevOps methodologies rather than manufacturing.

I can say that this was a great read and if you’re looking for a book that adds a very interesting visual element to a profoundly important story of the Theory of Constraints in action, this is a must-read.  It’s a business book, a personal growth book, and if you look around our IT communities, it is effectively the story of our every day.

You can head on over to the North River Press site to read up on the book and get your copy ordered:

Top vBlog Voting 2017 – Supporting Community Bloggers

Every year we are seeing more and more community contributors in the blogging ecosystem. My own work here at and through my role at Turbonomic in the community has been so enjoyable to be a part of because of the support that I continue to receive from readers and peers in many tech communities.

Eric Siebert has been hosting the Top vBlog voting for years, and it has grown from a handful of participants to a veritable must-read list that covers every aspect of virtualization, networking, scripting, and more. This year I am honoured to be among the contributors listed and am also very proud to have Turbonomic sponsor the voting.

My blog is listed in the voting under my name (just search for DiscoPosse) and my podcast (GC ON-Demand) is also in the running for best podcast.

I would greatly appreciate a vote if you feel that I’m providing content that is valuable, and of course, please extend your votes to all of the great IT community who surrounds us all. For those who know the work that Angelo (@AngeloLuciani), Melissa (@vMiss33) and I do with Virtual Design Master, you will know that many of the participants are also in the voting.

Your support of our amazing blogger and podcast community is always appreciated.  Thank you!

Vote here for this year’s event:

On the Value and Importance of Personal Brand

Over the last few days I’ve seen some chatting on Twitter about personal brand. I was very surprised by how many folks had a rather negative view of what it means to create and be proud of a personal brand. Perhaps my connotation is different than others, but let’s stop for a moment and think about what a personal brand is.

Brand, by definition, talks about “a type of product” among many possible definitions. This could be the reason that people don’t like the phrase “personal brand” being used as it may imply that you have created some product that is for consumption.

This is where I think we have to be especially aware of what it is that we do as we put ourselves out there online in any of a plethora of ways that we have available to us. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, your blog, your forum posts, or any contribution you do even in person in the office, it is uniquely you. That, in my mind, is your stamp on your presence. That is your personal brand.

The oddity around the push back on the honesty and openness of a personal brand is that opponents to the concept probably have some disclaimer saying “opinions are mine” or “tweets are my opinion and do not represent my employer”. They are right, because it is their personal brand.

You’re Selling Yourself, so Be Proud

If we think of the phrase “selling yourself short”, you have to also agree that the other side is true. Every single day we are selling ourselves, in the best of ways. Whether it’s to sell an idea you have to a colleague, or to your family. Even something as simple as choosing dinner is really a bit of a sale and an influence that is being done to pitch some ideas.

I don’t see this as a negative. In my mind, I’m proud of everything that I create. Even the things that don’t always stick, I have a deep pride in the process of ideation to creation. What happens over time is that we start to be able to identify certain things such as writing voice, phrasing, vocal recognition, style, and other “isms” that can become immediately recognizable by others around you as coming from you. That’s the reason that we start to read something from someone we know personally and you hear it in their voice, even just from the written words.

I’m proud to say that I have a personal brand. It’s what I put out every day. I didn’t create it for public consumption. It’s me. I just happen to have made DiscoPosse the moniker that many people associate to it. As noted in the Wikipedia page “The experiential aspect consists of the sum of all points of contact with the brand”. If you created an experience map of yourself, you’ll find that it as the annotation of a development of your personal brand.

If nothing, we should sell ourselves TO ourselves every day.  Stop and think about that sometimes, because it’s important.  Think about what you are doing to elevate yourself in some way every day.  This can also stretch to how you impact others in your community.

Your brand is strong. It’s your personality, not a product. Wear it proudly.