Omega Mapping

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Omega Mapping is a framework for powerful idea development using a special scheme of visualisation.

The process consists of four stages: fixation and loosening of current thinking patterns, defining challenge statement, creating ideas and developing solution.

Omega Mapping is based on the fact that a really new idea changes our views. If this is neglected, new idea mixes with old thinking patterns and becomes hard to implement. Omega Mapping embeds restructuring of initial thinking patterns about a project into the project itself. It helps developing new, strong and integral solutions. In addition, Omega Mapping makes creative process clear and easy by visualising it on Omega Map.

A simplified scheme of Omega Map.

Omega Mapping suits well for both individual and team work and can be used for development of new ideas in any area.

Omega Mapping Description

An Omega Map is built between Alpha and Omega points. The Alpha is our initial thinking, this is a point we start from. The Omega is a final solution, a concept your project converges into.

Omega Map at first work stage.

We can’t rationally deduce the Omega point from input data. It rather results from a lateral leap stimulated by using appropriate creative techniques, which leads to major overhaul of existing picture and creation of a new one. After the leap rational relations with the initial data can be built. Edward de Bono mentions this creative mechanism in his book “Lateral Thinking”.

Omega Mapping models natural way of creative thinking: fixation of current patterns, challenge statement, idea development and pattern restructuring. (On a broader scale, it models the natural way of evolution from divergence to convergence.)

The process consists of four steps.

1. Build the Alpha tree

Place Alpha sign on the left side of the sheet and Omega sign on the right one. Draw a line from “Alpha” towards Omega and put the project name on it. Then start drawing the Alpha Tree, or Tree of Possibilities, with the following main branches:

  • Branch 1. Information you have (resources available, project requirements etc). Also add information you may lack now.
  • Branch 2. Assumptions you start from. Add to each assumption some alternatives.
  • Branch 3. Possible means of project realisation. Add some “impossible’ ways to stimulate further thinking, too.
  • Branches 4-5. Leave blank yet and reserve some space for subbranches.

Now collect everything you think about the project, placing key words on respective branches.

2. Clearly define the central question

Now, when you have the picture of your current thinking pattern, it’s time for the exact formulation of the question you are working on.

Name the fourth branch “Challenges” and put there the tasks requiring solutions, possible problems and treats.

Then define as clearly as possible the central question. You can use some helper techniques here. If there is more than one question, you have to choose the primary question and one or two secondary ones.

In serious projects, this step may result in a creative brief formulated in a separate document. For quick projects, just write the central question down at the bottom of your Omega Map.

3. Leap to the Omega Point

After you have identified the main task / problem, start generating ideas for solving it. You will need a separate space for this work. The entire idea development process may be intuitive or quite elaborated depending on the project scale. Usually it can be divided into generation (getting as many idea seeds as possible), condensation (building ideas) and selection. This work will result in several idea candidates.

Before selecting the best idea, name the fifth branch “Ideas” and put there all the candidates on fifth branch of the Tree of Possibilities.

For simple idea selection, ask the following questions and choose the idea that fits best:

  • Does the idea answer the central question? Does it give keys for solving other project tasks and problems?
  • Does it comply with project scale and standards?
  • Does it have enough potential for the project development (adaptability, scalability etc.)?

For big projects, idea selection will be done separately. There are also some helpful techniques for better results.

After choosing the main idea, put it as a keyword at the line deriving from Omega point towards Alpha.

4. Build the Omega Tree

Now draw connections from the Omega Point to the Alpha Tree, choosing those alpha branches which may be used best for the concept developed. Write appropriate keywords on the connections (actions required, hints on realisation, key points etc). Here are some examples:

  • Information Branch: how project requirements will be met.
  • Assumptions Branch: what assumptions (including alternative ones) will be used.
  • Means Branch: what means to select.
  • Challenges Branch: what problems will be solved and how.
  • Ideas Branch: what additional ideas we can use.

Draw new Omega Tree subbranches as necessary.

Omega Mapping sample | Омега-карта

Omega Map sample (beginning of 4th stage).

As a result you will have the reverse map showing the new structure of thinking about the project. Next steps will be putting this structure in writing in the form of project vision (if necessary), planning and implementation.

As you can see, Omega Mapping doesn’t only help developing ideas, it also creates an integral vision of project development. Another interesting thing is that creative process starts already in the beginning and doesn’t stop until the end, constantly improving the solution. The basic structure of Alpha Tree can be modified if necessary.

The short form of Omega Mapping takes from 40 to 90 minutes, and it’s best to divide it into two parts with a short break in the middle. Big projects take longer time.

Your feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Background

Omega Mapping was developed by Vitaly Kolesnik as a creative visualisation tool which allowed more space for mental patterns restructuring. The concept of Omega Mapping derived from Teilhard de Charden’s insights applied to the way we think.

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