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Appendix 4 — Learning strategies
Contents Learning strategies
         Mind mapping
         Tree diagram
         Graphic organizer
         Ladder diagram
         Fishbone diagram
         Multiple circles diagram
         Summary chart 
         Venn diagram



Several learning strategies are suggested in this course. In case you are unfamiliar with any of them or you want to review them, there is an explanation and example below.




Synectics is a thinking process. Synectics is

  • Making the unfamiliar familiar — Using a familiar idea and comparing it to an unfamiliar idea


  • Making the familiar unfamiliar — Using an unfamiliar idea and comparing it to a familiar idea.

Here is an example of taking a familiar idea (train) and comparing it to an unfamiliar idea (a business plan). By comparing the train to a business plan, you will understand the business plan in terms of a train.

Likely, you will understand the term business plan very differently than before. If you use another comparison, you will again learn more. Use any concrete noun and try it.

There are two parts to a comparison:

  1. Similarities

  2. Differences

One should always draw conclusions about the comparison or summarize what has been learned about the comparison.


Making the unfamiliar familiar


Step 1 — How is a business plan (like) a train?

  1. They are both composed of several parts:

  • The train has an engine and several kinds of cars (passenger, mail, cattle, horses, oil, cars)

  • The business plan has a marketing plan, financial plan, analysis of the customer base, analysis of product and sources of supply, business objectives

train graphic
  1. They both have either goals or destinations to be met

  2. They both have a track to run on. (One is real and the other is metaphoric.)

  3. Both can move in other directions or take other tracks

  • The train may have to move to adjacent tracks because of its destination or problem

  • The business plan may move onto other tracks because of changes in the plan

  1. All of the cars or parts of the business plan can be placed in any order

  • The placement of the order of the cars on a train may depend on how it will drop off the various cars

  • The placement of the various parts of the business plan will depend on the business person's sense of order

  • The engine will always be first when it travels from one destination to another

  • The company name, major objectives, description of the business will always lead the business

  1. Each will have a time limit for its duration

  • The train will have a specific timetable for delivery of its goods and services

  • The business plan will be written for a specific timeframe — one year, five years

  1. Both can be of varying lengths

  2. Each may have events that could modify or change the plan during its duration

  • The train may have an accident, meet a storm, or landslide

  • The business may have to face a lagging economy, a fire, or fast-moving economy

  1. Both need skilled, competent, dedicated staff

  2. Both need someone who will take control and responsibility for it

Can you think of other similarities?

Step 2 — How is a business plan not (like) a train?

  1. The train consists of metal, electrical parts, and physical components, while the business plan consists of ideas.

  2. Both of the drivers (engineer or business owner/manager) have very different skill sets.

  3. The train is a series of machines or physical parts, while the business plan is a plan. Don't ever forget what the word plan means.

  4. The train engineer works for someone else, while the businessperson may own his or her own business. This may lead the businessperson to be more cognizant of the ramifications of the decisions that must be made while developing a business plan.

  5. The train engineer likely will have a small staff to manage, while the businessperson may have many people working for him or her. The business plan must take this into consideration.

  6. The train engineer does not own the train nor the product he/she is responsible for transporting, while the business plan writer could own the merchandise that is to be sold and may have to pay rent or taxes on the storefront. The business owner must consider this in the plan.

Can you think of other differences?

It is very easy to believe completely the metaphor that a business plan is like a train. It is important to recognize that there are similarities but that there are some differences too. A business plan cannot just ram itself into "snow" or plough through "rain". A business plan cannot just run over people because they don't move fast enough out of the way.

What would you learn if you changed the comparison?

The business plan is like a pea pod, refrigerator, or stairway, or maybe a springboard.

  Next: Mind mapping
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