Compendium as a Methodology

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Compendium as a Methodology

Compendium is really a meta-methodology – a methodology that implements a range of methodologies. It is a flexible way of visually representing structured analysis and problem-solving approaches. Originally called “Conversational Modeling,” it grew out of research efforts to create better tools for cross-functional business teams, work performed by Al Selvin and Maarten Sierhuis at NYNEX Science & Technology in the mid-1990s.

Compendium supports a wide variety of analysis and problem-solving approaches, including process modeling, system requirements analysis, business process redesign, data modeling, human resources succession planning, leadership development, strategic planning, project management, and others.

At its heart Compendium provides a way of combining these structured, formal  approaches with the unstructured, informal work of sensemaking – what groups of people need to do to create a shared understanding of their problem domain and each other’s perspectives. Compendium is about improving people’s ability to communicate with each other. It’s about the interplay between formal and informal, structured and unstructured, business and technical, and other differences of background, approach, technique, and frame of reference. It provides a domain-neutral, generic way of representing and working with ideas and their relationships, that can reach all the way from highly technical/formal/structured to highly exploratory/communicative/visual.

Most importantly, Compendium allows multiple ways to leverage the same data: as capture and shared display during meetings (face to face or virtual), as content for a knowledge repository, as input from or output to other tools and documents, and as an individual productivity application.

The methodology has been applied on more than 75 Verizon/Bell Atlantic/NYNEX projects since 1994 and has been successfully used by external organizations such as the Open University/UK, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Television, the Center for Creative Leadership, NASA Ames Research Center, and others.

(written 2002)

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