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‘Visual Concept’ software from Inspiration Resources


Avialable from: Inspiration Resources, High Trenhouse, Malham Moor, Settle, N. Yorks BD24 9PR

1-4 licences £205.00 +VAT per licence

As a kinaesthetic auditory type of person I have been trying to improve my visual thinking by forcing myself to create mind maps and so on. I was eager to load this software to see how it compared to others that I had downloaded from evaluation sites on the Web.

The installation process was straight forward and didn’t take too long and being the type of person who hates reading instructions off a computer screen ( but I will devour a printed manual) I started the programme up and tried to work it out. The tutorials that appear on start up helped, but not very much. In fact most of the help I got about the general concept came from the flyer for the manual version of the product based around magnetic notes for a whiteboard (which is reviewed later).

The preferred shape for individual ideas is a hexagon which helps to group ideas into ‘clusters’ and avoids creating a set order or hierarchy. Other shapes, circles, rectangles and diamonds are available for processes that rely on a particular order. Once individual ideas are all entered onto their shapes these can then be easily moved around the screen and clustered together. Titles can then be given to the clusters and the relationships between the clusters shown by annotated arrows.

After about half an hour of inventing a project to brainstorm and using Visual Concept I felt that the actual process was more in keeping with my thought patterns than other visual thinking techniques. I really enjoyed being able to move ideas in and out of clusters rather than creating a map that needed to be visually conceived before one starts. The software helped this process with ‘Brainstorming’ and ‘Cluster’ facilities. It did prove annoying that there was only one level on the ‘Undo’ function (this is being improved for the next version). Networked users can share files, look at and modify Visual Concept ideas.

Once clusters have been made, the titles for these can then be converted into hexagons themselves and the relationship between them explored. The aim of this is to try and avoid becoming overly concerned with detail. Templates also exist for specific thought processes such as prioritisation, yearly, monthly and weekly planners, resolving conflict and so on.

There are also manual versions of this product, with a selection of different sized hexagons for use on a magnetic whiteboard the larger the group involved the larger the size shape required. Post-It notes that are hexagon shaped are also being marketed so that impromptu ideas can benefit from the Visual Concept treatment.

For those of us who like to think on the move or on our own and don’t have a computer to hand the ‘Mind Wizard’ has been developed. This is a self-contained A4 sized wallet with a whiteboard area, magnetic hexagons, paper pads pre-marked to help with action planning and time planning, a pen and a users guide. The ‘Mind Wizard’ costs £25.95 +VAT and allows the user to feel more in touch with their thoughts by actually moving the hexagons around by hand. The size also means that ideas can be photocopied (if you are near to a machine), before you move on to the next stage.

Both ‘Mind Wizard’ and ‘Visual Concept’ help structure the way one thinks. Having tried other visually based aids and failed I found this concept easy to understand and easy to use. For me, this method of thinking is the best that I have found so far.

Matthew Simkin


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