bollino ceralaccato

Story of a thought which from linear became radial again

this is the story of Roberta who one day got on a special train and started a research trip with the passing of time she has had new experiences she has known attractive and involving places, far away from the usual common ones she has discovered that it is possible to travel in a different way the tracks of her train are not necessarily stiff and linear but they can be soft and pliant and allow her to admire from the window the landscape living inside and outside her also roberta’s writing style has acquired a pliant movement without interruptions such as capital letters or punctuation made up of words not closed, not shut in the “cage” of the layout her sentences are freed from the white space which even more highlights the black words her writing is far more similar to poetry than prose her story is precious for each one of us it shows us how to see with a different glance what “our usual glance” makes invisible


the article has been published in "Persone&Conoscenze" n.33 e 34, 2007


roberta buzzacchino my map 2006

can  a thought  find out its natural course

and from linear become radial again?

i think it is possible

it has happened to me

and this is my story

In motion

after a degree in law and a specialization in administrative law
my entry in the working world
takes place in 1997 in the state administration
among the numerous contests i take part in
the first one I pass is in penitentiary administration
as vice director of taranto’s prison
i begin to work but after a short while i realize that is not my job
in a few words……..i did not have the fisic du role

so i decide to start studying again going on working
i pass the exams to be a lawyer and specialize in communication  and public relations
in 2000 I publish  by the publishing house simone in naples
“a practical guide to self certification and administrative simplification”
a visual guide with 40 tables, originating from my working experience
and the practical necessity  to synthesize fragmentary, ever changing rules
the book is quite successful and is really appreciated by the staff
for its practical and essential approach

i get fonder and fonder of communication in the field of law
and i am a teacher of administrative law
in european projects for local institutions which use also distance education

time passes
my working experiences and my certifications
allow me to move from taranto to rome where
sometimes out of choice, sometimes out of necessity
i change several jobs
one year with the authority for public works supervision
one year by the cabinet of the minister of cultural activities
and in the meantime i move four times……….

in a word, from 1997 to 2003
i change town, administration, office, boss, colleagues
every time something new to learn quickly
organizations to know, people to communicate with
and many, many desks and pcs to fill in and clear out

while wandering among the meanders of law
i get more and more interested in legal communication
and i come to believe that ethical communication
is the only road to run, even if it is a hard climb

so i go on
trying to comply with and grow this passion of mine
and in 2003 i begin to work  for inpdap
where I am given the chance to devote myself to communication full time


i stop

in front of a nth  new desk
i stop and realize that my batteries are out of charge
in these  last years i have turned round frantically
all the data i have stored
have been lost in a thousand corners of my brain
i feel without roots
i am tired

i luckily find out my enthusiasm in a short time
when i am proposed to take part in a working group
whose task is the realization ex novo
of a procedure for the management  of the consumers’ complaints
the target is ambitious  getting citizens nearer to the institution
through a  confidence relationship based on their listening

for the first time i work with a group of people scattered all over italy
therefore our contacts are by phone or e-mail
we only meet once in a month
there is soon a good atmosphere
we start from nothing and begin to work constantly
projecting in parallel the administrative and computer procedure

with the passing of time i find myself working in a different way from the past
daily i manage a lot of e-mails and drafts of written papers
i try to create a red thread among the various observations, meditations,corrections,proposals
i help to keep the group united and compact
in spite of lively discussions among different personalities

well, after 4 months i am a bit in trouble
i realize i waste a lot of time
in finding out the files, fixing times,

the sequence of the manuals, the phases of the procedure for a thousand times

all the methods i had learnt up to that moment
do not work any longer
my thoughts dart straight like a train at full speed
to reach the arrival station as soon as possible
every now and then there is a technical stop
when new passengers-data get on in a loose order
but i realize i cannot look at the landscape out of my window


i discover

therefore one afternoon  i stop
i decide to put in order the sheets on my desk, the files in my pc
and while storing the many e-mails
i find the one of a colleague of mine who pointed out

the site of  luisa carrada’s professional writing
i click and begin to browse in
i discover a mine full of precious stones
and among them umberto santucci's “mappe mentali e scrittura”

it was enough to read the table of contents to understand that
i had found what i was looking for
new solutions, instruments, methods,
in a word “practical things” which could help me
to slow down the train of my thoughts with its linear motion
giving to it a different movement

Mind Maps

The technique of mind maps, developed by Tony Buzan around 1960, is based on the fundamental peculiarity of the human mind to associate ideas and thoughts in a non linear way. In particular, it allows to exploit at its best the latent potentialities of the right hemisphere of our brain, that is the one processing data in a global, creative ,intuitive, emotive and figurative way, making it work synergically with the left hemisphere, which is instead logical and rational.
A mind map is a graphic representation of a thought: the main idea is put in the centre of the map, while linked ideas and other details are connected according to a radial geometry.
You start from the centre and go on in all directions towards the outer parts, fitting in new concepts, creating links with the ones already fitted in, enriching the representation with colours and key images. Thanks to the large quantity of possible associations, the realization of a map is a very creative process, which gives the opportunity to generate new ideas never thought before. Actually every word in a map is the possible centre of another map.
A linear layout, such as a list or a pointed list, because of its structure with a beginning and an end, neutralizes creativity, preventing our brain from making associations, therefore memorizing in an efficient way. Instead, a mind map with its dynamic structure with a centre but not an end, supports in a complete way the process of creation of ideas, as it gives an effective comprehensive view helping the brain to process thoughts and ideas.

with the passing of time i discovered that the maps allowed me
to face things from another point of view because,
as albert einstein said,
“you cannot solve a problem
with the same type of thought
which you used to create it”,

i realized that my linear thought
which ran as straight and quick as a train
did not allow me to “be after”
the sudden changes in my personal and professional life
and the chaos of my desk
it did not allow me to see “ the landscape” around me

there was something that  escaped me
i wanted to understand more


i read

once again “the great web” helped me
and in particular  “pensieri semplici sulla complessità
la teoria del caos in cinque disegnini:
tentativo impertinente di semplificare la complessità”

by giancarlo livraghi

what struck me while reading
was the proposal of (also visual)stimuli for  reasoning

i am not going to synthesize the article now, that i invite you to read anyway
but i want to propose to you the sequence of livraghi’s drawings

livraghi caos1




in our personal-professional life
we often want to reach a target, to realize something
to go from A to B


livraghi caos2





but in our real world  straight lines do not exist

between a and b there are necessarily obstacles, interferences, indirect routes


livraghi caos3








we are therefore compelled to deviate


livraghi caos4






if we lived in a  steady world, or with foreseeable and controllable evolutions,

the solution (at least in theory) would be easy

we should force our route trying obstinately to go towards b

instead, as livraghi writes

“…….if we observe the dispersion diagram in different directions (in the third image) we see that (for example) two spontaneous deviations (c and d) converge towards an unforeseen direction (n). It is better for us to understand why. We could discover that the situation is this one:

livraghi caos5“………that is, the “turbulent” evolution of the system has enabled us to discover a new target n, on which we must converge our energies; but without cutting the branches that are exploring other unforeseen possibilities.
we note that some of these “exploring branches” have  directions similar to the “old” target b, others do not diverge so much from the “new” target n, others go towards less known territories; and the whole system has a structure that is perhaps little “logical”, but simpler than the situations in which you find yourself trapped if you try to follow a “linear” model.
As a matter of fact the so called “complexity” is not intrinsically more complex than the apparently “ordered” systems – and it tends to simpler synthesis. The difficulty lies in the fact that we are not ready to understand it.
All this resembles more the growth of  a plant rather than the working of a machine or the production of an object. In fact, it is almost inevitable that the analysis of complex systems lead to biological analogies.
It would be  very difficult to deepen the considerations, more or less complicated, which converge on this (obvious enough) conclusion, following many different routes. but i think that the simple intuitive comprehension of this fact can help us to understand how we have to move in a world dominated by turbulence and complexity, where the ”non linear” thought is often the winner”.

i experiment

that afternoon, in front of those 5 little drawings, i said to myself:
but if the winning thought is not the linear one
then i will use the radial one
and i will use the technique of mind maps to represent it!

so i started to organize with the maps all the work scattered on my desk
and i proposed to my colleagues to go on creating
the procedure for the management of the consumers’ complaints
with mind maps in digital format using the mindanager software

i remember the enthusiasm of my colleagues
who  started this adventure with me
convinced that in order to innovate it is necessary
to experiment, run new routes
and be always ready to be astonished!

this is the initial map

with which we presented the results of our work

every branch is linked to another more specific map
showing the details of the procedure, the communication plan…….

but the map  i am keener on
is the one describing the group’s work
because it allows to see at a first glance
the passages-landscapes of a year’s work
which, i am sure, i will never forget

mappa reclami 2

during my first experimentations
i knew  alberto scocco di Scatole Pensanti
con lui ho avuto modo di confrontarmi
with alberto I had the opportunity to compare myself
and share  my new way of seeing things
also through the site and

i experiment to play

but in order to appreciate the simplicity and easiness in using this technique
i did not have to study books of one thousand pages
it was just enough to play with my nephews. carlo who is 5 and paolo who is 3

they just looked at me
while i was drawing the maps
and all of a sudden they exclaimed: auntie, we also want to draw!

natale2006 062
their eyes reminded me
of the emotion you can feel
when you are presented with a yellow felt-tip to give colours to your ideas

natale2006 073
through them i saw
the lightness and harmony of a mind that
still free from conditioning and rules
can think and write in a radial way
to organize the first trip to…..australia!

natale2006 098

by using the maps i simplified my work
and i enjoyed myself with my nephews

but in 2006 i discovered their most  usefulness
while i was attending a master in public and institutional communication
as everybody knows it is tiring to keep your concentration high in so many hours of lesson
you often pass very quickly from one topic to another
and taking notes in an “ordered” way is difficult

thanks to the technique of the mind maps
i have found the right balance and harmony inside and outside myself:
while taking notes with a pencil and an eraser
the map allowed me to exercise “the art of subtraction”
taking away what is superfluous
and synthesizing the topics by means of key words and images


i get a deeper knowledge

usiamo la testa buzani went on reading
tony buzan’ s books with enthusiasm

what attracted me most
were the stories of people who thanks to the maps
had succeeded in solving problems
and realizing impossible dreams

iin particular i was struck by a story
in 1982 edward was an average student, or better a weak one
his school results would not have allowed him
to realise a dream of his: going to cambridge university

one day his father presented him with tony buzan’s ” use your head”
and Edward had the opportunity to know himself better,
how the brain is made and how it works,
a new learning method through the use of mind maps

so edward returned to school strengthened and motivated
and even if his teachers went on saying
“don’t be silly, you can’t make it out
the entry test to cambridge is too difficult for you!”
edward answered:
“i don’t agree with your view on the situation!”

edward went on his way and
map, after map, after map,
he passed the entry tests to cambridge
and from that moment on he started a life of success and great satisfactions
commented in this way:
“ the main difference between me and the others
was that i knew how to think, how to use my brain
i was a b series student
before discovering how to become an a series one
i have succeeded, everybody can make it out”

still now i remember
the day when i read those words
nobody had taught me
how our brain works
how you move your eyes while reading
what creativity and concentration are……

mind maps drove me to know myself and my nature better

i look

so i have got on my “special” train with a radial motion again
and in order to discover my brain
i have gone through roads so different one from the other
the scientific-rational ones, the artistic-creative ones

i have seen the two hemispheres of the brain in this way

cervello scientifico scientific_version
cervello artistico artistic_version

neurons have made me smile
and while looking at them carefully i have realized that mind maps have the same shape
a central nucleus and a lot of branches according to a radial logic

neuroni seri "serious" neuron
rete neurale 6 neuroni connessioni sinaptiche "semi-serious" neuron

just to know the richness that lives inside me i have read
an important english magazine about the latest researches on the human brain
but also a fairy tale has helped me know the other part of myself

copertina time the brain 02 02 07 se ti senti grande
l altro paolo se ti senti piccolo


then one day in a bookshop i have been enchanted
by emily the strange and her world


emilythestrange copertina









emily was born on a skateboard, designed by an american boy in a garage in santa cruz
a little dark lady, lying on a red background,
mysterious, remote, solitary, surrounded by cats
who knows herself very well…….

copy of emily the strange si conosce 1 copy of emilythe strange si conosce 2

i go on travelling

during this trip three years long
i have discovered that my thoughts
must not necessarily run straight like a train
but they can simply follow their natural course
according to a radial structure similar to the one of the brain neurons

now i look at what happens around me
from different points of view
not only the logic, rational one
but also the emotional and creative one

i can think and write in a different way, effective and amusing:
i can turn the sheet of paper from vertical to horizontal
pass from the linear to the radial writing
use all the colours i want
free my creativity

since 2004 i have been using the maps daily to organize my work
plan new processes with my colleagues, synthesize books
and above all take notes
during the meetings, lectures, brainstorming sessions

thanks to the technique of the mind maps i have begun to
slow down the train of my thoughts
looking at the landscape outside my window
discovering myself like this:

roberta buzzacchino my map 2006

thinking about all this i could enclose this map
to my professional curriculum
to introduce myself at the next interview
who knows? it could work!!


dear leana, thanks for your translation !




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