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Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results

Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results

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

ISBN: 978-0-470-86916-1

Aug 2004

396 pages



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.
About the Authors.

Preface: Creating the Future You Want – 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. It’s a Bummer to Be JB.

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

6. To Merge or not to Merge – 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.


  • First book to explain the applications of causal mapping and put the power of the technique at the disposal of a business audience
  • Award winning and well-respected authors who are the most prominent popularisers of causal mapping
  • Includes supplementary resource sections on how to use computers to assist with mapping and how to analyse maps, balance scorecards, flow diagrams, and value chains