Software is composed of modules which are composed of lines of code.
A cake is made of flour, eggs and chocolate. Flour is ground from wheat which is grown from seeds, eggs come from chickens which are fed on corn, chocolate comes from cocoa which is exported from South America. You get the point.
But in terms of relationships, a cake is in a direct relationship with its ingredients but knows chickens, seeds and South America only indirectly.
The relationship between cake, its ingredients, the cooking process and the basic ingredients are hierarchical which can be represented as follows:
Breaking objectives into steps
In the organization of business action plans, it is important to break down objectives into steps in order to achieve them and to know whether steps are nested within a higher level or whether they are adjacent.
This may all seem rather academic, but it is part of formulating plans. This is where we talk about breaking it down and building up.
Bottom up projects
Bottom up projects are about building small ideas into big ideas.
A project may also start from a collection of observations, how to improve something, observations of operational failings, quality. The challenge is to make the aggregate project elegantly represent the sum of its parts, not leaving bits out.
Bottom-up projects are about collecting and accumulating individual ideas and combining them into a project when they get to a critical mass.
Bottom up with Evernote and Ayoa
Evernote is used as the library, moh.io (now unavailable) was a valuable tool to explore notes and bring them together, when you already have all those ideas stored in the Evernote library.
Ayoa can help build up ideas into a workflow grid, brought in from Evernote and aggregated into a mindmap.
However you may need more structure to analyse your issues. In the Access form below, for each issue, you determine a possible cause and potential resolution.
When constituting a project, look for similar problems or issues that have the same solution.
However, you cannot always execute that solution straight away. You may lack time, need specific resources, or just because it’s more efficient to group issues together.
Make sure that you’re recording issues faithfully, so you capture the real observation and identifying potential solutions. This enables you to link them together and then create that bottom-up project.
Bottom-up analysis is where you have many problems and bring them together, to create a project to solve several issues.
You might know instinctively or intuitively that there are some issues out there could be solved together in one project.
We leave things aside until we can resolve them as a group in project mode.
Top-down analysis is where you have one good idea, but it’s quite a big idea, perhaps a strategic issue, a long-term thing or just a big thing you might not be able to achieve in one step but more than one. There may be different components and subcomponents.
You want to break the big idea or concept into parts, and you want to give some thought to what those parts would look like by functional analysis.
Perhaps you want to implement is a process, a new service.
Bottom-Up and Top-Down
One example is from software, which is composed of modules formed of lines of code. We know that you can’t just implement a piece of software in one go, you have to write the code and design the modules.
The example of a cake made of different components: flour, eggs and chocolate. We know that we’ve got to mix those things in a specific order. You can’t mix the eggs with the flour until you’ve broken them.
Flour is milled from wheat which we grow from seeds. Eggs come from chickens fed on corn. Chocolate comes from cocoa, which we import from South America. But the relationship between cakes and chickens is only indirect.
These are components and subcomponents in a hierarchical relationship. There is a direct relationship between cakes, flour and eggs and an indirect link between cake, wheat and cocoa, so the connections are hierarchical. And there is an order, a sequence in which we can solve issues.
So, there is this idea of breaking things down systematically, hierarchically, one level to the next.
In the bottom-up analysis, we have a bunch of issues that could group into a sensible project. A top-down analysis breaks an idea down into components to implement in parts.
Purpose is a top-down approach. The idea is that if you have a purpose, you retro plan actions to achieve the objectives that the purpose defines.
However, GTD says there’s no point in having a purpose if you can’t get things done. If you do, then you can build on that to imagine higher objectives, a higher purpose.
Purpose can also give focus by providing a starting point.
Purpose is not only a higher objective, it can also be the reason why you get up in the morning.
This enables people to learn about their business, managers to gain understanding of the system in which they operate, students or theorists to understand their system models. In conjunction with UML, developers, designers, system modellers, lawmakers looking at social engineering, sociologists looking at human systems, society, the functioning of society and complex systems.
Anywhere where and the need to get a stand-back holistic vision of the whole, the sum of the parts, from the relationships between objects, concepts or nodes.
I will be offering examples of such systems analysis, but in general, I use the notation to set down objects in proximity with a view to gaining new perspectives. There is an aspect of the theoretical here. We will not always handle true, real-life systems, and we may talk about how-we-would-like-them-to-be systems, designing for improvement.
This may apply to any domain, business, educational, social, political. I wish there to be no-holes-barred. We could, for instance, describe the racism system as a study in understanding its causes, the actors, the thoughts, beliefs and cures, but the main aim is to describe the tools and explore the free-minded thinking.
Why is this useful or interesting?
I use moh.io for mind mapping on the basis of existing nodes or fitting new ones inmoh.io Can also be used to create notes directly in ‘mind map mode’. Not forgetting that when nodes are created in moh.io that they become ever notes which beg to be defined, filled in and the full power of Evernote is therefore available to go round through the cycle again.
Once you start to complete a note, you will find that, in completing the detail, that you come to better understand the subject in question.