The person with the ability to solve problems and envision new opportunities wins in business – every time. It’s the basis of nearly all entrepreneurship – discerning a creative solution, identifying a new opportunity, seeing a pattern that leads your thinking in a profitable new direction.
“To see the world like nobody else, you have to ask the kind of questions that nobody else is asking.” – Rat Zana
In addition, this ability to peer into the crystal ball and see things others can’t is often a potent career booster: Generating breakthrough insights makes you look really smart to your boss and leaders who can influence the velocity and direction of your career. It can reveal new business opportunities and can help you to add immeasurable value to the people and organizations you serve.
Here’s how mind mapping software accomplishes these amazing feats:
It multiplies your perspectives
One of the biggest advantages of mind mapping software is that you can spread your ideas out in an unlimited number of directions. It’s perfect for divergent thinking – exploring well beyond your habitual, well-rutted paths of thinking to consider new possibilities. This superpower gives you the ability to consider challenges and opportunities from multiple perspectives – a key to creative problem solving.
It is an incredibly rich and flexible canvas upon which you can capture your ideas. Not only that, you can utilize it to:
- Explore your ideas and inspirations in rich detail,
- Record any questions for which you must find answers,
- Make notes about any knowledge and information you need to gather,
- List the stakeholders you need to persuade to your way of thinking and your strategies for doing so, and
- Much more!
Mind maps can contain an almost unlimited number of levels of topics. That means you can follow your lines of thinking as deep as they go, in any direction your muse takes you.
By comparison, linear thinking tools like word processing software tend to obscure the structure of your ideas, making it almost impossible to see the patterns they contain. Using this type of software tool is almost like wearing a set of blinders, which only enable you to look straight ahead.
That’s not a problem if the environment in which you work and do business is fairly static and predictable. But the opposite is actually true: The pace and unpredictability of change is increasing. Many business challenges today are systemic in nature; that means they contain a level of complexity and a set of interdependencies that don’t lend themselves to conventional, linear analysis.
Different times require different tools. Word processing tools have a set of tasks that they perform incredibly well. Thinking through challenges, gathering and distilling information and making decisions are not among them.
Classifying information helps you to see patterns within it
Mind mapping software enables you to visually classify ideas using topic shapes, colors and icons. All of these tools enable you to see patterns in your information and to make sense of it.
What’s even more powerful is that you get to decide what these visual indicators mean. For example, you could flag all of the tasks in your map by placing a green flag icon next to them. Or you could color all topics where you need to do additional research in red.
Moving topics around helps to reveal patterns
Mind mapping software makes it easy to move ideas around and combine them to build bigger ideas out of smaller ones. This also gives you the superpower of playing “what if” with the ideas and information your mind maps contain.
The process of moving topics from one part of your map to another is called refactoring. When you do this, you have an opportunity to re-evaluate and reconsider the relationship between the topic you’ve moved and its parent topic. Moving a topic to a new home changes its context. Coincidentally, it also places it in close proximity to a new constellation of topics, which can reveal patterns that weren’t previously visible. In this way, you can play “what if” with your ideas.
Rearrange several topics. If their new positions give you fresh insights or ideas, that’s awesome! If not, use your program’s undo command to return them to their former locations.
It enables you to think about your thinking
One of the most powerful but little-recognized capabilities of mind mapping software is that it enables you to transmute your ideas from your mind into a tangible form, where they can be manipulated, expanded upon and evaluated. That frees up your brain to continue brainstorming. Once recorded in this way, your ideas can also serve as catalysts or stepping stones to additional ideas. That’s because mind mapping software supports the way your brain loves to work – by association.
In addition, you can not only capture a wide variety of ideas, information and knowledge in your mind maps, but also your observations and interpretations about it. This “meta” capability is made possible by the open, flexible mind mapping format.
Mind mapping software is a multiplier of creativity and higher-level thinking and problem-solving. If you’re not using it in this way, it’s time to start. I think you’ll be amazed at what it makes possible!