Mind mapping is an incredible team-building tool, according to a recent article by Judith Glaser on WomenEntrepreneur.com. Here are the points that impressed me about the author’s look at the softer side of collaboration and visual thinking.
It’s creative and analytical: “What is so exciting about mind mapping is that its framework offers a way to think both analytically and creatively at the same time. A common analytical framework is to organize material around big ideas and sub-ideas – big concepts and then bulleted sub-topics. Yet for people who have creative minds, it’s very difficult to think in a linear fashion. Creative minds make links that others don’t think of or see right away. Having the freedom to create links that don’t follow any type of logical order – and to do it visually – is at the heart of the mind-mapping approach.”
Most business tools are either designed to encourage creative thinking or analytical thinking. Mind mapping is one of the few tools that enables you to do both. I guess I hadn’t thought about the ways in which mind mapping software enables you to move seamlessly between the two modes of thinking. Or perhaps I hadn’t heard it stated this clearly before. But it makes a lot of sense. By her own admission, Glaser is ADD. Mind mapping transforms that from a weakness into a strength – in other words, she can do a brain dump initially, without worrying about the structure of her ideas, and then analyze and organize later.
Mind mapping is a tool for building collaboration – but not in the way you would think: Yes, today’s mind mapping software enables teams to collaborate effectively on projects and serves as a powerful catalyst for group brainstorming. But in Glaser’s mind, it does something even more important: She talks in the article about how she uses mind maps with clients and colleagues to move from “I” to “we” – to build shared understanding.
“I knew there was something going on in the minds and hearts of my clients when we graphically mind-mapped change together. We could feel an organic shift take place that turned foes into friends, and my idea into our idea.”
Creating what she calls “WE technologies” – using mind mapping to break down barriers between team members who may be trapped limiting perceptions such as “silo thinking” and “us/them thinking” – has enabled her to give clients ways to create a safe space for breaking down barriers to trust, a key to business success.
In this blog, I have written extensively about the benefits of using mind mapping software for collaboration, enabling everyone’s ideas to be captured and built upon in a small group brainstorming session, and for co-management of projects. But this whole idea of utilizing it as a tool to encourage consensus building and “we” thinking was a fresh perspective for me.
Double-clicking your way to shared understanding: As part of her methodology, Glaser developed a technique called “double clicking” as a way to surface each person’s perceptions about a given topic, and then to build consensus of what it means.
“I call it double-clicking because the process mimics opening folders on your computer to drill down into details. When I use this approach with teams, I ask them to delve into their individual mindscapes to share and compare word meanings and perceptions with each other… By drilling down to individual perceptions, teams can begin to understand each other’s perceptions better and improve how they collaborate… We all hold different views of reality, and when we double-click, we explore the unique connections that are at the heart of the matter. We are able to breathe new life and possibilities into a business and relationships – the first step to creating organizational transformation.”
Most people tend to be trapped within their own mindset, perceptions and opinions. Anything that doesn’t fit into their worldview gets rejected, or at least energetically resisted. In other words, we’re not as open-minded as we think. And that tends to derail teams and organizations. People refuse to support corporate initiatives. They drag their feet or check out mentally. Or they sometimes work to undermine the rest of the group’s efforts, or become very vocal opponents of them.
When we share our thinking with others, we open ourselves up to others’ ideas and perceptions. In the process, that forces us to rethink our own thinking. When this happens, according to Glaser, barriers fall and shared understanding leads to better teamwork and greater commitment to supporting change and transformation.
Mind mapping is the perfect tool for entrepreneurs: “Mind mapping is a great tool for any entrepreneur with big aspirations who is not yet sure how to achieve them. Mind mapping helps people play with new ideas and possibilities before trying them out. You can create different maps, each with different scenarios for what to do and how, and then evaluate the options before taking the risk. Mind mapping has no limits – only those you impose on yourself.”
I couldn’t agree more. Mind mapping strips away the blinders and opens us up to new possibilities. It enables us to think about our thinking in powerful ways. And it helps us to transform nebulous ideas into hard-core action plans, so we can bring them to fruition. In short, mind mapping is a perfect match for the entrepreneurial mindset!
I love Glaser’s insights in this article. What do you think?