The ThoughtWeb platform can be used to deliver a wide variety of solutions. The following describes some of the core elements of ThoughtWeb. Further functionality may be added by turning on relevant features within the platform (e.g. collaboration, alerts, visualisation aides).
A solution configured on the ThoughtWeb platform enables Decision Superiority by a community of people with respect to a particular area of need. It may comprise one knowledge domain or multiple interconnected knowledge domains.
A knowledge domain provides the structure and work environment in which each person contributes to achieving Decision Superiority across the community. It comprises the contextual framework, cognitive model, business rules, engines, personal agent dialog templates and associated content.
The concept map is the heart of every ThoughtWeb solution. It is the graphical representation of all the concepts and concept connections defining the conceptual framework of the solution. Concept maps range from the simple to the very complex. Here are some examples.
A concept is a collection or set of objects of the same type (e.g. a set of countries, activities, goals).
The connection between two concepts allows the objects in one concept to link with objects in the other concept. Concept connections are (a) directional and (b) of multiple types, such as one to many, many to many, and many to many with variable strength (called ‘fuzzy’). They define the cognitive reasoning ‘flows’.
The conceptual framework represented by the concept map is based on a cognitive model.
To create a cognitive model, we first tell a story about the community in clear, simple terms, using its key words (or concepts) in a way that makes sense of how the community needs to think, behave and function.
The story is a word picture of the situation in which people make decisions. It involves deconstructing a complex problem down into layers of thought driven by four key questions:
- Why bother looking at this – how important is it?
- How is it going – what is its performance?
- So what – how significant is this deviation to the big picture?
- Who needs to know, decide and act?
We translate the story into a picture, which becomes a shared mental model and the basis of shared understanding. This picture becomes the ThoughtWeb concept map. It implies many rules, which are used to guide thinking and contextual reasoning. These business rules are embedded in the software.
Due to the flexible nature of the ThoughtWeb platform, the concept map and the embedded process flows may be easily updated as needs change.
The cognitive modelling process provides new perspectives for a community about an area of need and is a critical component in achieving Decision Superiority. It is supported by comprehensive sets of modelling rules provided ‘out of the box’.
SIPRA is the patented method for organising information that supports the cognitive model.
The vision of success, relative importance, performance and risk associated with each object are assessed from the perspective of the whole community. Within this context, the awareness priorities for each user with respect to all objects are based on the community perspective as well as on their own personal accountabilities, roles and interests.
The relative priority of an object is a function of its importance and its performance.
The relative importance of objects is based on a network analysis of objects and the strength of their ‘i-flow’ connections, which indicate the degree of contribution to purpose drivers or desired outcomes. Using the example to the right, the importance of an object in Concept D is a function of:
- the relative importance of each object in Concept B and Concept C
- the connection strength between objects from different concepts
- the connection strength between objects within the same concept.
To assess the performance of an object the various types of performance measures (e.g. progress, outputs, outcomes, perceptions) are compared against targets and merged, then this performance is aggregated through the network based on object ‘p-flow’ connections. Using the example to the right, the flow of performance from Concept Z to Concept Y is a function of:
- the performance of each object in Concept Z
- the connection strength between objects in Concept Z and objects in Concept Y.
Trusted by the Australian Government Department of Defence, ThoughtWeb’s security is robust and granular. Each knowledge domain uses security groups and relationships to determine an individual user’s access rights to concepts and to each object. The standard pre-defined relationships are directly accountable, indirectly accountable, team member and interested, but these may be configured to meet specific requirements.