The mind is everything. What you think you become Buddha
We could use mind mapping for a series of different scopes, such as:
The above list isn’t exhaustive; we could find a tons of other ways for using mind mapping; let’s get deeper.
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:
The image below is an example of mind map taken during a meeting.
Mind Map Meeting Example
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.
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:
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
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.
Because it’s visual. Our brain can see the outcomes – especially if we accessorize our mind map with images.
A popular method to approach problem solving is the 5W + 1H outline; we ask ourselves a list of questions that we need to answer:
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
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:
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.
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.
I’m an enthusiastic and highly motivated PMP and Prince2 (Foundation) Senior Program Manager with 16+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. I often work in highly pressurized and challenging environments, managing a large-scale software development program up to an order value of €6M. I’m extremely professional in approach and behaviour, adaptable to change, very meticulous, collaborative, energetic, resilient, innovative, proactive and pragmatic. I’m passionate about process improvement, technology innovation, knowledge sharing techniques and how businesses can capitalize on social media integration. My greatest strength is helping to focus my organization’s efforts on the activities necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives in order to consistently meet both the customer’s and business’ needs; on time and under budget.
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