mind mapping

Mind Mapping for Project Management

The mind is everything.
What you think you become
Buddha

 
 

I

f we googled a few, we could find a lot of articles about the subject. Mind mapping is a very good alternative to classic project management softwares to manage our initiatives.
This article is intended to give us a brief outlook on how to use mind mapping in our various activities every day, also in managing our projects.

We could use mind mapping for a series of different scopes, such as:

  • Taking notes in a meeting;
  • Summarize the content of a document;
  • Create or analyze the content for a Project Plan;
  • Goal setting;
  • Problem solving;
  • Brainstorming;
  • Decision-making.

The above list isn’t exhaustive; we could find a tons of other ways for using mind mapping; let’s get deeper.
 

Taking notes in a meeting

All of us take notes in a meeting and I’m sure that taking conventional ones has ever been seen as a boring and a problematic activity.

The first thing we do in these occasions is writing quickly in order to follow the natural way of speaking; doing this way, the lecture becomes an exercise in taking dictation, not making sense of what’s said.

Another counter indication is that, doing this exercise, we do write masses of notes, we make a mountain of paper to revise afterwards and we know how difficult would be finding an useful information afterwards.

Another problem that comes up is that if something becomes clear later, we aren’t often able to add that information in the right place.

Mind mapping could help us to avoid these kind of troubles; an example is included in an analogy I found in Tony Buzan’s books about mind mapping.

We’ve all experienced not being able to follow directions to a place. We can see clearly around us but we’re still lost. What we need is a map. Maps give us a picture of where to go – not “first left then third turning on the right”. They show and explain the surroundings or context where we find ourselves.
 
We can only follow written directions when we’re on the described route. We can use a map even when we’re starting from somewhere else. This is because it shows us the whole geography, the relationship between places, not just the “one route to one destination” which directions describe. Conventional notes are like written directions. Like other maps, mind maps give an overall picture and show connections.

These are the principles of mind mapping:

  • Start in the center of the page with a clear title – preferably incorporating a strong image, anything to help jog your memory later.
  • Main ideas are written on the lines branching off the subject. Other ideas branch off these as twigs would grow from the boughs of a tree.
  • Write only KEYWORDS, not sentences. (To note a specific quote, map the quote’s keyword and refer to the full quote on the edge of the map or on the next page.)
  • Write keywords ON the lines so text is always connected to the lines showing the whole idea structure. Draw additional lines connecting ideas where necessary.
  • PRINT words. Mix lower and upper case (capital) letters so the text is varied, clear and easily readable. Don’t resort to your usual “joined up” writing.

The image below is an example of mind map taken during a meeting.

Mind Map Meeting Example

Mind Map Meeting Example

 

Summarize the content of a document

Every document or book always has a set of core ideas and concepts and it is up to the us to capture those. If you have tried taking notes as you read, I’m sure you have experienced how often you want to add more notes to another concept on another piece of paper, or you need to reference older notes using arrows, which can lead to very messy notes.

Mind maps are ideal for summarizing information, such as that found in such kind of documents. With branches as our main concepts, we can flesh out concepts and ideas with our notes and structure them for easy comprehension.

The principles to follow in order to create an effective mind map are the same explained in the “taking notes in a meeting” paragraph.

 

Create or analyze the content for a Project Plan

As we explained in a preceding article on how to create a Project Plan (read here about how-to), it’s a very complex document that includes a series of information about the project; it surely needs some brainstorming sessions in order to define its content.

Mind mapping can help us to decrease timing and to increase our effectiveness in creating this kind of project management documents.

An easy way to get started is to have your main project as the core idea and to have these branches set up:

  • Project Management Approach
  • Project Scope
  • Change Management Plan
  • Communications Management Plan
  • Cost Management Plan
  • Procurement Management Plan
  • Project Scope Management Plan
  • Schedule Management Plan
  • Quality Management Plan
  • Risk Management Plan
  • Staffing Management Plan

For each branch of these, we’ll have to implement ideas and concepts. In the end, we’ll have a complete Project Plan spending less time than using the conventional way.

We can find an example of initial setup of Project Plan mind mapping.

Initial Mind Map setup for a Project Plan

Initial Mind Map setup for a Project Plan

 

Goal setting

We all know it’s good practice to write down our goals (i.e. project goals), but the next level to writing goals down on pen and paper or on a MS-Word document is by using mind maps.

Why?

Because it’s visual. Our brain can see the outcomes – especially if we accessorize our mind map with images.


 

Problem solving

A popular method to approach problem solving is the 5W + 1H outline; we ask ourselves a list of questions that we need to answer:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How

This is a great situation to use mind maps for, because as we expand each section, we will oftentimes see relationships between our answers and that is something we can pinpoint on our mind map. This will help us clarify the problem, which makes the solution more apparent as we go through all questions.

To get started, have our problem as our core idea in the mind map and have each branch represent one of those questions. Let’s try to answer each question in isolation when we start off and, as we go through all of them, we will oftentimes come to a solution.

We can find an example of initial setup of Problem Solving mind mapping.

Initial Mind Map setup for a Problem Solving

Initial Mind Map setup for a Problem Solving

 

Brainstorming

Mind mapping is a great way to brainstorm ideas and to subsequently structure ideas into something that makes sense.

To get the most out of brainstorming sessions we have to know that there are two phases:

  • divergent thinking;
  • convergent thinking.

The first phase is coming up with the ideas and topics we want to cover. It’s when we are free flowing and we are not thinking about what is good, bad or semantically correct. There are no relationships or connections between our thoughts. This phase is about quantity over quality. Let’s get out as many thoughts as we can and capture them in a mind map.

The second phase is the one where we start to organize our thoughts (got during the first phase) and structure them; this phase is about quality over quantity. This is where we deal with the thoughts created previously, remove the thoughts that we think are not relevant and organize what is remaining to work towards our outcome.

 

Decision-making

When it comes to making decisions, it’s always a good idea to have a list of options to pick from. We can easily do this with an Excel spreadsheet but also with mind maps. The big advantage of mind maps is that we can make it visual.

Due to its visual nature we can easily spot relationships between options and – especially as we map out different scenarios, it’s easier to make connections between options in order to find out what the best decision is for us. Plus, making decision trees is much more effective with mind maps.

 

 
Please rate this post:

[ratemywe]

Categories

Donate € 5,00

Help the growth of this blog

Latest Tweets

%d bloggers like this: