Practical pads for thinking

How do I use Ovalmaps?

The use of OvalMaps is simple. You start by putting a number of pages of flip-chart paper on the wall to give a continuous paper surface suitable for writing on. Then give each person a number of ovals and a marker pen (see below). When appropriate, people can then write on the OvalMap and use the sticky PostIt® strip to position them on the paper. If it isn’t quite right, simply peel and re-apply. When you are happy with the positioning, you can use the marker pen to draw arrows on the background paper from one oval to another. A key benefit you gain from using oval-shaped paper is that people feel comfortable putting them in sensible clusters, and do not constrained to put them in rectangular or hexagonal patterns. The OvalMap product gives you the benefits of ovals with the security of PostIt technology.

The process of determining when people should place their ovals is of course down to the person in charge of the meeting – the facilitator. You will probably start off with simple use of the ovals, but if you want to gain best use of your time you may wish to learn about formal oval mapping techniques. The book “Making Strategy” (by Colin Eden and Fran Ackermann) includes a detailed example of how to use oval mapping, as does the book “Visible Thinking” (by John Bryson, Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden and Chuck Finn). Ovals are often used as a manual start to computer-based mapping using Banxia’s Decision Explorer®.

Water-based Pens!

A quick note on the marker pens that you use. Of prime importance is that they are water-based, and not permanent. People will write on the paper on the wall, and it is likely that some of the ink will go through the paper. Water based pens will wash off, permanent markers won’t.

Another recommendation is to use bullet-point rather than wedge pens, and make the points reasonably large. Wedges cause people to write in funny ways, and if the pen has a fine nib, people will tend to write small – what you want though is nice big writing that can be seen from across the room.

Banxia Software stock pens that satisfy these requirements.