Let’s Get Visual
You wake to a song on the radio, an oldie that takes you back to where you heard it. That was at a summer concert on the freshly mown lawn. You can almost smell the grass again. You see the faces of the friends you were with, especially your steady date. Bits of conversation from that night come back to you. You start to laugh at a joke you thought you’d completely forgotten.
Almost all of the work that made that experience happen was your right brain making associations. The song you heard was associated to the event and each detail that radiated out from it, until you had a picture of the event.
Mind Mapping — The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential — is a way of taking that kind of relational thinking out of your head and putting it where we can see it.
You might already know how to do it. Chances are you know a kid who can. Grade schools have been teaching how to organize and map ideas this way for a couple of decades. In school this technique is called clustering, idea mapping, concept mapping, or idea webs. They’re part of the curriculum as early as age 7.
When to Use a Mind Map
Mind maps are useful for clearing your mind of the thoughts around an idea. A mind map is best used for capturing an idea and its parts while it’s happening. They work well for most people because they allow for information to be structured in the same way as our brains relay it: I made the mind map below as I was conceiving the basic services for the Perfect Virtual Manager (PVM).
This map represents the thinking at stage 1. It shows the groups PVM would serve and the basic services each might use. The map helped me define the service and became a visual to talk and write from when I was discussing the idea with others. Now the fledgling concept shown here is far more complex.
One look at the mind map and folks have the “big picture” of what kind of service I’m offering. It gives them a solid grounding through a visual. What began as a way for me to work with my thoughts has produced a useful tool for sharing the first stage of the offering.
Mind mapping is particularly good for situations in which you want to share somewhat structured ideas with a client, but you don’t want them to look so finished that the client has no room for input.
Here are some resources for mind mapping. You don’t really need software to do it. I find a pencil works well too.
Have you mapped your mind lately?
–ME “Liz” Strauss