Concept Maps

We create concept maps, a type of model,
to explore and learn about complex information spaces.
By showing everything—the forest and the trees—in a single view,
concept maps help people create mental models and clarify thoughts.
We create concept maps to share understanding—
with our clients, peers, and others interested in the subjects.

Please note: many of our concept maps are poster size.
They can be printed at smaller sizes (11 x 17), but may be difficult to read.
A few of the maps have been printed and are available through our office.

Feb 4, 2016

Bruce Archer’s Design Process Checklist


The image above is only a small slice (2 of 15 pages) of the overall model.

This is a re-drawing of Bruce Archer’s 229-step design process; which is difficult to come by. It also brings together Archer’s descriptive text with the diagram for the first time.


TrustTheVote Election Technology Framework

We’ve been working directly with the Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET) on the TrustTheVote Project — an open source project to reimagine the voting system in the United States. The TrustTheVote Election Technology Framework is something new — a blueprint for developing a complete elections system.


Mar 25, 2013

Computer Networks


We created these diagrams to help us better understand computer networks.

The diagrams use two computer networks—a small office network and sections of a large enterprise network—as reference networks.


Sep 28, 2011

Alzheimer’s Disease

This diagram presents a model of Alzheimer’s disease. It brings together many facts about Alzheimer’s disease to present a picture of the disease and the context in which it operates.

The diagram is intended to help people who are familiar with some aspects of AD have a wider understanding of it. It is also helpful for people who might be learning about Alzheimer’s for the first time.


The 892 unique ways to partition a 3 x 4 grid

The 892 unique ways to partition a 3 x 4 grid

Designed by Thomas Gaskin. Creative direction by Hugh Dubberly. Algorithms by Patrick Kessler. Patent belongs to William Drenttel + Jessica Helfand.

This poster illustrates a change in design practice. Computation-based design—that is, the use of algorithms to compute options—is becoming more practical and more common. Design tools are becoming more computation-based; designers are working more closely with programmers; and designers are taking up programming.

Above, you see the 892 unique ways to partition a 3 × 4 grid into unit rectangles. For many years, designers have used grids to unify diverse sets of content in books, magazines, screens, and other environments. The 3 × 4 grid is a common example. Yet even in this simple case, generating all the options has—until now—been almost impossible.


Mar 16, 2010

Creating Concept Maps

A concept map is a picture of our understanding of something. It is a diagram illustrating how sets of concepts are related. Concept maps are made up of webs of terms (nodes) related by verbs (links) to other terms (nodes). The purpose of a concept map is to represent (on a single visual plane) a person’s mental model of a concept.


Mar 20, 2009

A Model of The Creative Process

Concept Map: A Model of The Creative Process

Created in collaboration with Jack Chung, Shelley Evenson, and Paul Pangaro.

The creative process is not just iterative; it’s also recursive. It plays out “in the large” and “in the small”—in defining the broadest goals and concepts and refining the smallest details. It branches like a tree, and each choice has ramifications, which may not be known in advance. Recursion also suggests a procedure that “calls” or includes itself. Many engineers define the design process as a recursive function:
discover > define > design > develop > deploy


Mar 11, 2008

A Model of Play

Concept Map: A Model of Play

Created in collaboration with Satoko Kakihara, Jack Chung, and Paul Pangaro.

This model is built on the idea that play is a type of conversation. It involves two individuals, who might also be teams, or points of view with in a single person, or a virtual person and a real person. Through conversation, they create a shared world in their imaginations, which leads to fun.


Mar 29, 2007

A Model of Innovation

Concept Map: Innovation

Created in collaboration with Sean Durham, Ryan Reposar, Paul Pangaro, and Nathan Felde.

This model is built on the idea that innovation is about changing paradigms. The model situates innovation between two conventions. Innovations transform old into new. It is a process—a process in which insight inspires change and creates value.


Jul 28, 2004

How Organizations Track Customers

Concept Map: Information Loop

Increasingly, organizations are focusing on understanding their customers to increase customer satisfaction and to maximize lifetime customer value. Insights gleaned from observing customers can drive product improvement, loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals and cross- and upselling.