Chic Thompson’s new book, What a Great Idea 2.0: Unlocking Your Creativity in Business and in Life, contains an intriguing mind map that caught my eye. It depicts three simple mind maps, side-by-side, that are joined together to show the relationship between them (click on map image for a larger view). From left to right, the central topics of these maps are causes, symptoms and results. Taken together, I think they provide a more complete view of your problem, challenge or opportunity. Here’s why:
Most often, we become aware of the problem when we experience the symptoms. The engine in your car begins sputtering. Customers are angry, because they did not receive their shipments of widgets on time. Your company’s employee retention rate suddenly plummets. These occurrences do not represent the problem itself, but rather are indicators of a deeper root cause. Once you have documented the symptoms, you can follow them back to the root causes.
On the other side of the mind map cluster we have results. This mind map depicts what the ideal future situation should look like. Your car runs smoothly. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high, and so is employee retention. Once you have a clear picture on the screen of what the ideal result should look like, you can then begin filling in the intermediate steps, brainstorming ideas that will take you from your present state to your stated objectives.
Thompson’s mind map cluster does an excellent job of helping us to visualize the relationships between the root causes of our problem, its visible symptoms and how we’d ideally like to solve it. Once all of this information is arrayed in a mind map, it clearly suggests potential solutions.