Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for comments on “mind mapping in the recession” contest. The number of stories that you shared (over 60) and the ideas I gleaned from reading them were amazing!
I have selected 6 people to receive licensed copies of MindManager 8, as part of the contest I was running. They are: Rafael Varon, Eric Benson, Christene Martell, Hanna Phan, Mark Allen and Mark Halbe. I will be contacting each of you via e-mail with your license key and download instructions. Congratulations!
Here is a summary of the major themes:
Survivors are handling a bigger workload: As firms around the world hunker down to survive the global recession, many are reducing head count – which means the survivors are often doing the work of 2 to 3 people. Several of you mentioned how it would be impossible to manage the flow of information and projects without mind mapping – as well as to capture the knowledge of your departing colleagues.
“Prior to people leaving, I used mind maps to efficiently and effectively capture their knowledge and also plan my schedule for acquiring the knowledge and skills from my co-workers. Since they have left, I have used a single mind map in MindManager to stay on top of my increased workload, through prioritizing, linking to email messages, adding key information in notes. Perhaps most importantly, the colors, styles and images available have enabled me to raise my mood,” explains Ian Bolton.
Glen Dolan shares how he is using mind mapping to maximize the efficiency and flexibility of his company’s workers:
“I have been using mind mapping to figure out ways of cross training people and making them more versatile. Using mind maps as a primary teaching aid has helped employees’ comprehension and retention. I have also been using mind mapping to prepare tests for people to take after cross training is complete.”
Inevitably, as people get laid off, some of the remaining employees need some retraining in order to take on the responsibilities of those who have departed. Also, as companies become more lean, they must be able to cover for one another (through cross-training) if someone gets sick or if other special needs arise.
Another trend that has been developing for some time, but which has become accelerated by the recession, is the demise of the administrative assistant. As a result, mid- to high-level executives are experiencing information overload and over-work like never before, as Mark H. so eloquently explains:
“I’m a baby boomer that actually depends on his computers to accomplish the overwhelming flood of new responsibilities being forced on productive people. I’ve watch executives the same age as myself avoid the change and push away technology. I’m the old guy in the office that really uses his computer. My associates just complain. Ten years ago, I had a secretary and an assistant. Now I have a laptop and a Blackberry. If you’re like me this transition slowly took all my spare time and eliminated the people we were training to assume our responsibilities as we move up the ladder. There are two kinds of people in the work place now. Those like me who grasp new technologies and those who refuse to do so. I see mind mapping as the next logical step for me.”
In other words, we all had more support staff in the past to help us with gathering, distilling and distributing information and knowledge. Not any more. It’s a new world at work, and we need better tools (i.e., mind mapping software) that can help us to keep up!
Anticipating change, and preparing for the future: Bert Olbrich wisely points out that during a recession, change tends to happen in fits and starts, as companies thrash about, trying to develop new business models and ways to survive the new realities of their markets.
“The pace of change has accelerated. Assessments and planning needs to be updated in shorter intervals to anticipate the future and adjust present decisions. The final outcome of the recession journey is not clear yet. Important skills are fast-forward thinking, anticipation and innovation, and Mindmapping is the method of the hour,” he advises.
Pierre Rheaume views change as an inherently visual challenge:
“Very soon in my career, I realized that words and text weren’t the best tools to design, share and manage a vision of change. I began to map a project of transformation on one page using images, colors, structures and very significant words… I’ve developed what I call an “image-concept” to communicate and explain management concepts like quality management, innovation management, strategic communication, risk management, team work, technology developments and so on.,” he said.
Innovating is easy when you have a lot of resources. But when resources are pared to the bone, what can you do? Eric Benson was faced with the need to complete current projects and revamp his firm’s core service – with no additional resources. Mind mapping proved to be a powerful ally:
“Out came the markers, the graph/butcher paper and the voice recorder to map relationships between projects, schedule changes so they wouldn’t clobber one another, and make sure I didn’t overlook areas I could improve or remove. Then, as I finish out areas, I transfer online and poll our team for feedback. It’s a lifesaver,” he explains.
Creativity is key, and mind mapping helps you to see opportunities: Numerous respondents said they were using mind mapping software to handle the micro-level tasks as well as macro-level planning, minimizing wasted time and maximizing efficiency. Several people also said their mind maps are helping them to see new opportunities and generate profitable new ideas:
“In these ugly economic times, the more creative you get, the more likely you are to satisfy your customer and still turn a profit,” says Duane Dalian.
Leila Oliva shared how she is using the “SCAMPER” creativity method and metaphors in her mind maps to generate and capture ideas. And Christene Martell tells us how she is using mind mapping to reinvent her business:
“I’m having to reinvent my business, (and) any sloppiness in (my business) model can no longer be absorbed as the market tightens. The shifting is taking a lot of deep self reflection, with ideas and insights emerging in fits and spurts. I was drowning in post-it notes, yellow pads and assorted slips of paper. Mind mapping gives me a way to see the organic growth of concepts and understand the larger patterns that are emerging.”
Seeing patterns and deeply exploring concepts are two keys to developing breakthrough ideas.
Mind mapping is a flexible research tool: Howard Veit uses his mind mapping software in a unique way: As part of the research he does, he conducts numerous interviews. He uses a mind map to develop a wide range of interview questions, which he prints out and displays on a single page in front of himself during the interview.
“That allows me to jump around the questions depending upon the course that the interview takes,” he reveals. That’s a great idea!
The full set of comments contains much more great tips and insights. I strongly encourage you to read them.