In this post I (Thibaut) will outline some situations where mind mapping was useful to me – I hope it will serve you well. Before starting I must say that getting used to mind mapping brought me very positive things, sharpened both my analysis skills and my ability to get a global point of view on tricky subjects. It’s only been a year and a half since I started, I’ll definitely carry on.
You may want to read this introduction to mind mapping tools first.
Creating a briefing before a important phone call
When I need to make a phone call involving questions I really want not to forget, or statements I really need to make because it is important to ensure the callee becomes aware of something, I create a small map, usually with the following topics:
- name, job title and phone number of the callee
- the subject we should stick to
- the questions which should be asked
- statements to be made
While it can seem a bit “overkill” at first, it helps to stay focused on the purpose of the call, and to ensure we don’t forget any important questions. I tend to draw the answers on the same map, or check the items for which I needed a precise answer.
If you use a mind mapping software, you can even archive the map in a folder shared with your team. This way a couple of weeks later, if you’re not at the office, someone else can call the callee back while being aware of all the questions and answers which were provided.
Organising a meeting while staying focused on what is important
I create the same kind of map when I organise a meeting with my accountant or other people I happen to see only once in a while. Because I want to ensure I won’t forget important stuff before I leave, I prepare a small map on a post-it with all relevant topics. I check the topics as we discuss them. It avoids to leave with one topic uncovered.
Brainstorming a subject
For this one, it’s important to pick a tool you are comfortable with so it doesn’t get in your way. I do use MindManager for this, after trying a couple of other software solutions. I use mind mapping both for brainstorming alone or as a team.
For brainstorming I tend to draw ideas as they come, without much thinking. I write down everything coming to mind, and reorganize the topics hierarchically as soon as some relationships seem to appear.
Gathering project requirements
Yet another case where I was really glad to discover then use mind mapping: when it comes to gathering requirements (for a software project typically), I find it is quite efficient to welcome each stakeholder separately to get his/her input. I usually rephrase the input to ensure I’ve managed to capture what is expected. I also like to write down priorities for each stakeholder, then consolidate the priorities with everyone, once I’ve discussed with everyone involved.
Later on I use the map as a reference or as a monitoring tool which evolves as things are implemented.
Preparing a training session
I’ve used MindManager to create training sessions a couple of times on specific topics. I tend to switch between the map and other materials (code editor if we’re doing software training) as required.
In this situation, I value the ability to fold or unfold the topics as I need it. It helps a lot to give the audience an overall view of what is going to be covered, then to dive in the subtopic when I need it.
Managing a technical project roadmap
I used mind mapping for technical project management, specifically to define iterations of development, to get an understanding of what contains a given version of a software or a website, to organize and prioritize features to be implemented.
It was actually great to gather bug reports after a round of tests, see what is duplicate or what is relevant, prioritize, and dispatch the bugs to my team.
At some point though, having a separate system with tickets for bugs and little tasks is more efficient. I think having the mind-mapping software act as a front-end to a ticketing system could be very efficient.
Gathering all useful elements about a specific subject
As a freelance consultant, I take a great attention to organize as much valuable information as I can to be able to carry out the handover to internal teams once the customer and I decide we’re ready to go.
For that purpose, I’ve also used mind-mapping with good success. I tend to think it helps us to focus on substance rather than on style, compared to the same exercise in a word processor.
Writing this post!
This post was actually prepared using a mind map. I keep a Moleskine with me so to be able to write down ideas as they come.
We’re done! I hope this article was useful to you.
Source: Evolving Worker