Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results by John M. Bryson, Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden, Charles B. Finn

Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results by John M. Bryson, Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden, Charles B. Finn
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Visible Thinking:

Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results

by John M. Bryson, Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden, Charles B. Finn

Causal mapping is a tool that enables you to make sense of challenging situations so that you can get more out of them. A causal map is a word and arrow diagram in which ideas and actions are causally linked with one another through the use of arrows. Typically, only specialists such as physical or social scientists and operations researchers know about causal mapping and the tool is therefore not widely known or its broad applicability understood. Until now there has been no guidance available on how to make use of the tool for more general purposes. This book lets managers understand the theory and practice of causal mapping in layman's terms for use in both individual and group settings. It shows managers how to develop and use action-oriented strategy maps and logic models in business decision making. The authors show how causal mapping can be used as a tool to make sense of challenging situations and develop effective business responses.


John M. Bryson is a professor of planning and public affairs at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN (USA), and has held visiting appointments at the London Business School, University of Strathclyde, University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. His research, teaching and consulting interests focus on leadership, strategic management and the design of participation processes. He uses causal mapping in much of this work. Professor Bryson has published ten books and over 80 scholarly articles and book chapters. He consults widely in the US and UK. Fran Ackermann is a professor of strategy and information systems at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (UK). She is interested in working with groups (public or private, multinationals, or small and medium-sized enterprises) on messy, complex, strategic problems and sees causal mapping as a fundamental aspect of this work. She has consulted widely both within the UK and in Europe, Australia and the USA. She is co-developer (with Colin Eden) of causal mapping software C both for individual use and for groups C and continues to explore means of supporting group working through IT. She has written extensively in the area, having published three books and over 70 scholarly articles.

Colin Eden is a professor of strategic management and management science at the University of Strathclyde. His major interests are in: (1) the processes of strategy making in senior management teams, and (2) the success and failure of large projects. He has consulted with the senior management teams of a wide range of public and private organizations in Europe and North America. In all of these activities he uses causal mapping as a part of the process. He is the author of seven books and over 150 scholarly articles in management science and strategic management.

Charles B. Finn is a management professor at the College of Saint Rose, Albany, New York (USA). He has held teaching and management positions at the University of Minnesota and State University of New York. He has worked as a consultant to private, public and non-profit organizations at local, state and federal levels within the USA and has taught and consulted internationally. He has two interests in mapping: (1) how large, diffuse systems can organize for everyday challenges and do the necessary strategic thinking to realize competitive advantages, and (2) how to use mapping to encourage personal and organizational learning and development.


About the Authors. Preface: Creating the Future You Want C Causal Mapping for Individuals and Groups.

Part I: What Mapping Is and Why and How It Works.

1. What to Do When Thinking Matters.

2. How and Why Mapping Works.

Part II: What Do I Think? A Guide to Cognitive Mapping.

3. How not to Miss the Boat.

4. House of the Rising Fun.

5. Its a Bummer to Be JB.

Part III: What Do We Think? A Guide to Oval Mapping.

6. To Merge or not to Merge C That Is the Question!

7. Small College Hoping not to Get Smaller!

8. Making the Most of our Assets.

9. A Question of Turning Around.

Part IV: Summary and Conclusions.

10. Learning from the Chapters, or How Does This all Fit together and How Can I Make Use of It?

11. Benefits, Limitations and the Future of Mapping.

Resource A: Glossary of Terms not Defined in the Text.

Resource B: Analysing Causal Maps.

Resource C: A Brief and Selective History of Causal Mapping for Facilitating Thinking and Other Commonly Used Mapping Techniques.

Resource D: Additional Resources.

Resource E: Listing of Process Guidelines.