Category Archives: process philosophy

The invention of the ‘Flow Rainbow’ flowchart

Well I said in an emailed my daughter,  ‘Here’s the ‘elevator pitch’ for the flow rainbow’ (‘flowbow’?), so i began, and it turned into this.  I will write the short one next! Exciting to be finally coming to fruition after going through 20 years and the ‘entire family fortune’ (sorry Anna, Eutopian quests do have their costs and if I’d known…) seeking to ground the vision of that day… (Apologies to the Doc in Back to the future!)

Origins and development so far:

For about 20 years, since my third year at Auckland University doing an MA in philosophy, I’ve been working on a ‘process metaphysics‘ (My thesis (not well received by the rigidly ‘western analytic’ philosophy department of that time) was called ‘Process and Inquiry’ and featured a new diagrammatic analysis of process based mainly on C.S. Peirce‘s ‘Tritism’

Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 – 1914)

Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 – 1914) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

, Murray Munro my reclusive philosopher friend’s ‘hexaholomorphism’ and Robert Pirsig‘s books ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘ and ‘Lila‘)

Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

In the last few years I’ve focused on perfecting a form for the ‘process diagram’ which non-philosophers can easily use as a creativity and problem-solving tool in their life, play and work. (The Eutopia game and Wheel of Wisdom game (see www.wheelofwisdom.wordpress.com)are the prototypes of the ‘game’ approach I’ve also been trying.)

The ‘Tree of Life‘ form
was good for showing the fractal form of process in a familiar fractal shape – the tree – but the ‘rainbow’ form is more flowing and intuitive for actual use as a flowchart system. It was a time of stress with too much going on in my head, and I made myself a process ‘tree’ in a simplified form, minus the trunk, making a ‘rainbow’ arch around my desktop using glass louvres hinged with cellotape:
My cluttered desk as I write this tonight… (Note the flow rainbow on my computer’s virtual desktop. I use it to order my folders on the desktop. Note also the trial printout of the rainbow on clear film to go into the new clear plastic flowbow.) I have found my prototype great for getting more strategic with my own convoluted, constantly evolving work/creation flows. I use Postit notes which I move around the five colour zones of the rainbow from blue  (input) on the left through Green and Yellow (Novelty and Reaction/planning) to Red (output) on the right, to Purple (status quo) in the middle. (The flowbow’s colours go left to right instead of up and down like a normal rainbow)
The concentric lines of the flowbow represent the levels of the projects being worked on – the lower are more ‘survival’ status quo processes, the outer band where the main colour are, is your ‘rainbow level’ – highest aspirational work. So at a glance you can see where your postit notes are clustering, and take action to keep them in balance level-wise as well as processing-wise. (Now I have a flowbow to fit around a computer screen which is ultra-simple – a curved two-layer semicircle of clear flexible plastic that you can bend to suit – and unbend.)
After using it for a bit I realised that if I made each colour zone of the flowbow a different length to reflect the proportion of each process ‘zone’ in my own ‘natural working style’, this would be a constant reminder to tailor my life and work around the energies I really have available for the different phases of work, and play to my strengths in a totally strategic way. I had my profile done in the Kathy Kolbe system, and it was quite revelatory and liberating, but the process metaphysics adds a huge amount to that system, which is essentially a static profiling and doesn’t map the relationships of the different zones or phases of process (and the relationships between the different people who ‘inhabit the different zones). Her system has four colour groups which are quite like my four, minus the Purple status quo and with (unfortunately) the red and blue interchanged.
Seeing how powerful an individually profiled flowbow is, I am now going to write a profiling questionnaire so people can find out their natural process style and get their own customised rainbow printout (perhaps with their logo or other relevant graphics, and the names of the main phases of process in their particular line of work) on acetate film which they then slip between the layers of the desktop flowbow. They could order a general printout for work, some special project ones, one for personal life, etc.
The general instructions will be free with the flowbow, but there will be short ebooks and videos for particular applications, such as essay/book/report writing, product development, brainstorming, marketing, self-improvement, etc. Follow this blog by email and see the offerings which (I trust) are coming very soon!
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Filed under Origins, personal profiling, process philosophy, wheel of wisdom game