Recently, I was asked by a project management professional how mind mapping software can help teams to think, plan and execute effectively while working remotely. Great question!
She made the assumption that she may need a mind mapping tool that enables co-editing capabilities, so all team members can contribute to a map, either live or asynchronously. But when you’re doing brainstorming or planning, this model isn’t the most effective.
What’s the shortcoming of having everyone contribute to the mind map? It can quickly degenerate into a wild mess. Or you may experience the other extreme – no one contributes ideas because they don’t feel comfortable working with mind mapping software.
A better practice is to designate one person as the facilitator and another as the scribe for the meeting:
- Facilitator: This person guides the group discussion, asks follow-up questions and ensures that all team members contribute to it.
- Scribe: This person captures the ideas and input from team members in the mind map. Separating this role from the facilitator should be done whenever possible. This frees up the facilitator to focus on running the meeting and soliciting everyone’s best ideas, not having to worry about the nuts and bolts of creating a mind map.
Using a facilitator and scribe lets your team members stay focused on what they do best: Contributing high-value input and ideas!
Other team members can view the map via Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts or other screen-sharing application of your choice. In other words, team members will contribute ideas and other input to the mind map, but only one person will build it.
Functionally, this is the same way you ought to manage a team-based brainstorming or planning session when working face-to-face. The map is displayed on a large screen at the front of the room, but only the scribe adds ideas to it and organizes them based on team member input.
This model works extremely well because:
- It enables team members to see their ideas on screen, which is very empowering.
- It also helps them to see how their ideas fit into the bigger picture, which also helps to increase their engagement in the meeting.
- Finally, when you and your team are brainstorming, every node of your map serves as a stimulus for additional ideas.
Group brainstorming with a mind map can be very powerful, whether you’re working face-to-face or remotely.
Additional resource: How to facilitate a brainstorming session with mind mapping software (Mind Mapping Insider report)
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