I recently came across an article from MIT Sloan Management Review that explains the current and future challenges facing businesses, how they are different from the past, and the kind of thinking that’s necessary to address them. Not surprisingly, mind mapping software is ideally suited to meet these needs.
No kidding – this is the most concise, compelling overview of the challenges of doing business in these uncertain times that I have read to date.
Here are some of the key thoughts from the article, along with my observations:
“Leaders of many of today’s more mature organizations don’t have the right mindset or practices to help their organizations survive. They grew up with management practices suited to a different age—one with higher barriers to entry, greater transaction costs, fewer capable competitors, growing and increasingly affluent markets and far less information. The environments they are facing now, however, are less predictable, more complicated and more volatile.”
The high degree of complexity and uncertainty that managers and leaders must deal with today requires better planning tools – tools that can help them to visualize complex sets of information, organize it quickly and effectively, extract important insights and ideas from it and utilize it to make better decisions. Mind mapping software is perfectly suited to these needs, which is why it enjoys increasing popularity in business today. I like to call it” the savvy executive’s secret weapon.”
“As uncertainty increases, companies are finding themselves facing what we call a high ratio of ‘uncertainty to knowledge.’ This is a problem because making decisions based on old assumptions often leads to unfortunate outcomes.”
I love this idea of the uncertainty/knowledge ratio, because it accurately describes a problem that most strategic level executives face today: There isn’t enough information to make accurate, informed decisions – or at least it isn’t easy to gather and analyze it. Mind mapping software can help executives to manage uncertainty by enabling them to visually map out the current challenge, identify missing information and help you to manage your “discovery” process, brainstorm and organize potential solutions, evaluate alternatives based on various criteria, select the best ones for implementation, and develop visually-oriented project plans for each of them. In short, mind mapping software helps to lower the uncertainty/knowledge ratio.
“Human beings have a tendency to embrace information reinforcing their pre-existing beliefs, while challenging or rejecting information that calls these beliefs into question.”
By enabling you to capture, organize and analyze information and knowledge, mind mapping software can help you to challenge your existing assumptions, determine the new realities of the current situation and make better decisions, based on a rigorous analysis of a more complete, balanced body of information and knowledge.
“We favor a “discovery-driven” approach that emphasizes searching for the right answers and reducing the assumption-to-knowledge ratio.”
As I’ve already explained, mind mapping software is invaluable for bringing order and efficiency to the discovery and analysis processes.
“Launching reinvention requires candid assessment of the core’s prospects and goals to orient the organization toward a compelling future.”
How do you envision future scenarios? They are mental “pictures” that envision your organization’s potential future states. As such, they are sometimes difficult to put into words in a meaningful and compelling way. Mind mapping can help, by enabling you to lay out a set of scenarios side by side and compare them.
“Once management acknowledges that the core business is in trouble, the next challenge is to determine which projects, initiatives and other activities can drive the company’s growth ambitions. This often leads to decisions to invest less in enhancing the core business and more in new, rapid-growth segments. The more specific a company can be about which kinds of initiatives will support its future strategy, the more momentum it can create.”
Mind mapping software enables you to visualize trade-offs between a number of growth opportunities, identifying and codifying strengths and weaknesses, and helping you to craft a more accurate future vision for the organization’s long-term sustainability.
“Document and test your fundamental assumptions. As the overall business environment changes and the stability of core businesses becomes less certain, managers need to be willing to take a few steps back and reassess. It could be that things they thought they ‘knew’ about their business are actually assumptions that may or may not still correspond with reality. “
Documenting assumptions can be done easily with mind mapping software. In fact, some strategists believe it’s an ideal tool to bring unseen assumptions to light, so they can be accurately assessed.