My younger brother introduced me to mind mapping many years ago. At the time, he was using the tool to create ideas, headings, subheadings and content for articles for his blog, Gazettabyte. Even though I could see its many uses, for some reason I kept putting off using it. Lately, a day doesn’t go by without creating or amending a mind map.
So why do I use mind maps in business? Because mind maps help me think, capture my thoughts quickly and help me to visualise the big picture. When I ask my clients or business acquaintances if they use mind mapping tools, I’m given a mix of answers. Some say they do, but only for complex issues. Others say they use pen and paper to free-draw their ideas and don’t get on with computer software programmes.
Like many business tools, it’s not clear just how useful they are until you start using them. You have to push past the ‘pain point’ of learning a new software tool – believe me it’s well worth it.
In the last year I have become a ‘heavy user’ of mind maps, using them almost daily. Here’s what I use them for:
- Researching a new market
- Sharing Information
- Creating synergies
- Creating blog articles
- Strategy review
- Helping clients to resolve an issue
- Helping clients to think about an issue
- 1, 3, 5 10 year plans
- Life plans
- Goal setting
I could go on and on but don’t want to bore you. I’m going to assume your creative juices are flowing and you can figure out for yourselves how you would like to use this mapping tool in your business. I have included a few examples below for illustration purposes. Please treat them as a work in progress which is true for most mind maps.
Why prefer using a software programme over pen and paper, when creating your mind map?
Using a computer programme for mind maps in business, allows us to move our ‘thoughts’ around and grow the map quickly into a number of tiers. We can change our mind and add another tier or grouping of ideas as simply as ‘cut and paste’.
By colour coding we can connect ‘thoughts’/ideas/items and make them stand out. Colour coding helps us to visualise the big picture. Most programmes will allow you to add images, comments, icons and website links. See my example of a new food product development (please treat as a work in progress for illustration purposes only).
To view the map, you can press on the plus/minus buttons at the top left within the map which will allow you to zoom in and out. Or you can hold down your Ctrl key together with either the ‘+’ (zoom in) or ‘-‘ (zoom out). Alternatively, you can zoom in and out by holding down the Ctrl key and using the wheel on your mouse. To view different areas of the map, hold down the left click of the mouse to hold the cursor in place and move sideways, up and down, etc.
How to choose a mind mapping software programme
There are many mindmapping tools – try several and use the free trial to see which ones work for you. If you do not take to it naturally, stick with it for a bit and get past the uncomfortable stage as the tool is extremely useful in many situations.
Which programmes are intuitive? Which do you struggle with? Which has the functionality you are looking for? Which programmes are constantly developing and adding features?
I chose to develop my maps using MindMeister – it’s relatively easy to use, easy to download in various formats including pdf or as an image. MindMeister are constantly developing the functionality and enable a 30-day free trial.
From mind map to action plan
This is the second and probably the most important reason why I chose the MindMeister mind mapping tool over all other mind mapping tools – you can turn your mind map into an action plan as it works with their MeisterTask programme.
MindMeister & MeisterTask: How to turn your ideas into action
An information share mind map illustration
The following map shows how one can generate a map containing information useful for your clients, colleagues, partners, shareholders, etc. I chose to create a map for grant funding in the South East of England and UK region, as this is most beneficial for any of my clients who are based in the region or moving to the SE of England or to the UK. Each item is clickable, leading directly to the relevant website.
Mind maps aren’t just for business!
To ensure your work-life balance, and to make sure you life is enriched with activities and you meet your life-style requirements, why don’t you create your 10-year life plan. Because it’s computerised you can add, change, amend as time progresses. You can check it periodically to make sure you’re on track. You can even turn it into an action plan.
Mind maps are incredibly useful business tools and can be used to visualise issues, solve problems, create a plan of action, or a book, recipe, chapter, article – the list is probably endless. It’s only our imagination that stops us.
As I mentioned above, I use MindMeister because it’s relatively easy to use, the map can be shared, embeded into a website or blog article, as you can see, or downloaded in various formats. There are four levels, Basic (free), Personal ($50 per annum), Pro (£83 per annum) and Business (£126 per annum).
Why not start creating your first computerised mind map now via a 30-day free trial.
Share your creations with me in the comments section!
About the author
Lesley Anne Rubenstein-Pessok, MD of LAR Consultancy Ltd, has spent her whole career in executive roles, working with and training start-ups and SME businesses, helping them to become more efficient, increase turnover, improve profitability, cost effectiveness and create strategies that pay off. She is an approved mentor for the London and Partners’ Business Growth Programme, as well as for other public funded programmes. Her client testimonials say it all.