pIneapple: Looking at Object Process Methodology and Dialogue Mapping

Object process methodology and dialogue mapping may illustrate different processes of systems thinking but they compliment one another – much like pineapple on pizza.

Both object process methodology and dialogue mapping take on a cyclical shape. Researcher Dov Dori explores how object process methodology illustrates object transformation through processes into new states (Dori 683-693; Wachs, Frenkel and Dori 153). The word, “transformation,” invokes cycles, like how ice transforms into a liquid state through melting and freezes solid again. In class, we noted that snowballs turn into a snowman through the process of stacking and a snowman can transform back into snowballs through the process of unpacking while Dori, Juan P. Wachs and Boaz Frenkel document how the same operating team performs surgeries repeatedly (Wachs, Frenkel and Dori 153-163). Similarly, in Simon Buckingham Shum’s article, a conversation in dialogue mapping can return to a previous state – a political debate could begin talking about improving education, expand upon teaching standards, dive into budgeting for teaching resources and return to an idea about developing teaching skills (Buckingham Shum “Real-Time Mapping Election TV Debates”).

Where object process methodology and dialogue mapping differ is difficult to explain because I initially classified object process methodology as an information analyzing process and dialogue mapping as an information synthesizing process. I believe that my misunderstanding stemmed from the language that Dori uses to explain object process methodology. When explaining the fundamental structural relations in object process methodology, Dori identifies aggregation-participation as, “a solid triangle, which denotes the relationship between a whole thing and its parts” (Dori 685). This definition implies that when modeling a solution to a problem, entities are separated and isolated. Even the software used for modeling object process methodology emphasizes separation, as attributes of entities are entered in individual boxes (as shown in class) and appear as lines of code (Wachs, Frenkel and Dori 156). Both object process methodology and dialogue mapping create divisions but it is up to the user to create threads to see how the entities working together create problems and solutions. For instance, in a debate about whether pineapple and pizza pair well together, a dialogue map could abruptly end if one person separates pineapple and pizza and says, “I hate pineapple; therefore, I hate pineapple on pizza.” The statement does not explore the larger question, “Do pineapple and pizza pair well together?” In object process methodology and in dialogue mapping, the user looks at how pineapple and pizza work together to create a desirable or undesirable outcome.

Another way of explaining object process methodology as a whole again lies in the pineapple example. “Pineapple,” is made up of the two words, “pine,” and, “apple;” however, a pineapple is not a pine tree or an apple or a combination of the two physical entities (some hybrid red fruit in shape of a pine tree). A pineapple may look similar to a pinecone, the seed of a pine tree, and it may taste sweet like an apple but it is its own, unique entity. The composition of a pineapple contains attributes such as a prickly exterior and a sweet, yellow, juicy centre that together, create one whole fruit. Similarly, although an operating room is composed of many parts, the parts work together simultaneously. There is a surgeon and a scalpel but unlike a break room or a storage room where the two entities exist separately, the operating room involves the two entities interacting with one another. Furthermore, the surgeon also uses the scalpel for a very particular purpose – to cut something to help repair an individual patient’s body – but the task is embedded in the routine operating room system. Just as systems thinking is applied to a unique problem, the operating room acts as a whole system applied to a unique patient and the pineapple forms one whole composition that is viewed differently depending on the tastes of the person who interacts with it.

Upon reflecting on these examples, my takeaway is that object process methodology models language whereas dialogue mapping models conversation. In their article, Wachs, Frenkel and Dori’s do not elaborate on the content of conversation in the operating room but focus on how to achieve successful communication regarding operation tool handling. They note that the language used between staff members in an operating room must be precise to ensure surgery success – from verbal instruction such as saying “sharp down” for scalpel handoff (Wachs, Frenkel and Dori 160) to nonverbal cues such as an open palm request for a hemostat (Wachs, Frenkel and Dori 159). Similarly, the class’s challenges in creating a model of a snowman were not rooted in a lack of knowledge about how to build a snowman but how to describe the process of building one. Snowballs could not connect to a snowman because of the many-many relationship that illustrated a general and not unique experience – many snowballs could make many snowmen and many snowmen can be composed of many snowballs. It was only when we changed “snowball” to “snowball set” that the diagram made sense – many snowballs can make many snowmen but only one snowball set can make up one snowman.

Dialogue mapping also focuses on a particular problem but unlike object process methodology, does not prioritize finding one solution. The UK election article highlights how all parties offer their perspectives on resolving issues such as aging populations, military funding and education but does not highlight whether the comment content is positive or negative, only that the response supports or rejects another comment (Buckingham Shum “Real-Time Mapping Election TV Debates”). Much like the pineapple on pizza debate, there is not one solution, only pathways that synthesize perspectives of how problems are created and understood.

Disregarding all of this, pineapple pizza still triumphs.


Works Cited

Buckingham Shum, Simon. “Real-Time Mapping Election TV Debates.” April 15, 2010. Accessed 21 Jan. 2018.

Dori, Dov. “Modeling Knowledge with Graphics and Text Using Object-Process Methodology.” In Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management. Hershey, PA: Idea Group, 2006, pp. 683–693. Accessed 21 Jan. 2018.

Wachs, Juan P., Boaz Frenkel, and Dov Dori. “Operation Room Tool Handling and Miscommunication Scenarios: An Object-Process Methodology Conceptual Model.” Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, vol. 62, no. 3, 2014, pp. 153–163. Accessed 21 Jan. 2018.


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