As a knowledge worker it’s always useful to be able to develop visualisations of concepts and ideas. Visualisations can help you organise your thoughts and see things in a new perspective. They can also provide a big picture overview of complex issues and ideas.
As a big picture thinker I love a good visualisation but developing successful visualisations is a real art form and most people don’t know where to start. That’s where mind mapping comes to the rescue.
A simple methodology with some cool tools and suddenly our ideas can take flight. As effective smartworkers we should all be mind mapping – right? Wrong – if mind mapping is being practiced by knowledge workers then in my experience it’s being done behind closed office doors. Occasionally I see someone mind mapping at a conference – using the mind map approach as a note taking tool. Usually I talk to them about their use of the tool. Rarely though do I see mind maps used as part and parcel of everyday knowledge work. Why is this? Here are some factors that may be at play in preventing mind mapping really taking flight. I can’t draw…
Firstly mind mapping is associated with drawing – and most people have a fear of drawing programmed into their DNA. Actually they probably learnt that they couldn’t draw at school and unlearning this is a real obstacle. The rulebook…
Secondly the methodology itself has some rules that may actually hinder it’s use. The key inflexible rule is the over reliance on a single central idea, followed closely by the inability to break the tree network structure. A mind map may look like a tangled web but is in fact a strict hierarchy. Getting it down on paper…
One of the key challenges for mind mapping is the practical approach to getting a map out of ones head and onto a piece of paper or a computer screen. That’s where the mind mapping tools come in – ranging from a sheet of A3 and some coloured pens to dedicated PC based mind mapping tools.
I’ve tried quite a few ‘tools’ over the years and still find paper and pen the most flexible – however there are problems. Firstly if I hand craft a mind map only I can actually read it – that’s not always a problem because many mind maps are for my own personal use. However it limits their application as an idea sharing tool. That’s why I have continually struggled to find a PC based mind mapping tools that I can work with effectively – and by effectively I mean easily and creatively.
However, mind mapping tools have been improving in recent years and there are some pretty good solutions on the market. Probably the best I have come across so far is MindJet’s MindManager
Do you mind map? What tools do you use?