Both Paul and Kailash are proponents of Dialogue Mapping. Dialogue Mapping at its heart is a facilitation process where the (co)facilitator creates a visual map that captures and connects participants’ contributions as a conversation unfolds. A session would look like the drawing below, where the group are focused on a shared display—likely a projector and as they discuss an issue. The dialogue mapper captures the discussion using a visual representation known as IBIS (Issue Based Information System).

IBIS has a rich history, It was invented by Horst Rittel and Werner Kunz around 1970 as a means to document diverse viewpoints on complex wicked problems. Rittel actually coined the term “wicked problem” – a topic we covered in both our books. He suggested that one of the strategies for addressing them was to make “the basis of one’s judgement explicit and communicating it to others”. IBIS was conceived for this purpose.

Although Rittel described IBIS as a “second generation design method” at the time, IBIS was actually the first in a line of tools and techniques that came to known as Design Rationale. According to John Horner and Michael Atwood of Drexel University, Philadelphia, “design rationale is the reasoning and argumentation that underlies the activities that take place during the process of designing something” – be it an artefact or a system of some kind.”

Various IBIS-influenced software tools have come and gone over the years and on this page you can find out more about them and download them.


Compendium is a java based application that facilitates the mapping and management of ideas and arguments using IBIS. Compendium has a long history right back to Horst Rittel and has been forked at various times too. Presently there are three main versions to consider:

Compendium 1.7.1 – The Cognexus Build. Jeff Conklin developed a version of Compendium that specifically supports the building of IBIS structures in both individual and group work scenarios. Unfortunately the group scenario does not work overly well (requires a MySQL instance set up and is very latency sensitive), it is nonetheless a very stable build.

Compendium 2.0 beta – The KMI Build. The Knowledge Media Institute was the custodian of Compendium for many years, which took it to version 2.0 beta. The site has some wonderful resources and sample maps as well. This version of Compendium is stable, provide you install the patch! This is the version Paul recommends in his Dialogue Mapping classes.

  • Compendium 2.0 beta for Windows Download (be sure to also download the patch and follow the instructions in the release notes)
  • Compendium 2.0 beta for Mac Download (be sure to also download the patch and follow the instructions in the release notes)
  • Compendium Institute’s Page

CompendiumNG – The Community Build. CompendiumNG is continuation of the original Compendium project. It picks up from where version 2.0.1-beta left off. The Compendium community established CompendiumNG as an effort to maintain and further develop this great software. Unfortunately initial builds had a new issues and this version is not as easy to install on Windows machines. Nevertheless it is the most up-to-date version.

If you’re feeling keen…


Glyma is an IBIS tool based upon the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 / 2013 enterprise collaboration platform. Its primary goal was to bring issue mapping into enterprises as a way to manage knowledge traditionally not written down. It provides features to embed videos and other rich media content into maps and integrates tightly with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 / 2013 by providing web parts to expose maps to users within the organisation.

Unfortunately Glyma is no longer in active development but the project has been made open source and the binaries can be downloaded from here. It requires an on-premises version of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 / 2013 to be installed.


Oystr is an online communication platform for teams to facilitate and structure conversations using various mapping techniques. It has strong support for issue mapping and development is underway to support other mapping techniques like mind mapping, concept mapping, and argument mapping.

Oystr is currently is in a private beta and interested parties are requested to apply through its online form at .