As we all struggle to cope with information overload and help lead our organizations into the future, a new type of person is emerging – a rare breed who can cut through the clutter and get to the essence of a challenge or opportunity, and can see it with a remarkable level of clarity.Visual thinking expert David Armano calls them “synthesizers.”
“Shifts in technology and human behavior are creating the need for “synthesizers” – people who can filter through the ambient noise being generated in fast-moving business environments and distill thinking into clear and actionable insights, ideas and strategies – which ultimately informs creative and innovative problem solving.”
Synthesizers take in a ton of information, distill it, organize it, make sense of it and then output the result. As David’s diagram implies, there is some separation of what is valuable and should be retained. The part of the information that is “noise” – not useful to us in the moment – is discarded or put aside. They then perform pattern recognition on the remaining inputs, “chunking” related information and adding insights that these rearrangements reveal. They then use this analysis to generate outputs – reports, PowerPoint presentations, infographics and other forms of communication.
This is a process that all of us must do in order to manage information overload and contribute value to the people for whom we work. Synthesizers simply do it much better than others, either because of innate ability or because they have tools that help them to do so.
Breaking down complex ideas and synthesizing them into something meaningful – and then transforming them into valuable outputs – is the raison d’être of mind mapping software.
It gives us a palette upon which we can deconstruct our current challenge or opportunity, visually separate the key elements from the background information, reorganize and distill what’s left, and make decisions with a remarkable level of clarity. That’s what you, the readers of this blog, have told me is the number one benefit of mind mapping software – it helps you to reach clarity faster.
So if you’re reading this blog and haven’t yet invested in mind mapping software, now is the time. This is one of those technologies that you need to work with, learn from and make your own. Chances are, you’ll benefit greatly from learning how to be a more visual thinker. There is no question in my mind that synthesizers are highly valued people. In a world in which companies are struggling to survive, their vision and their ideas are needed like never before.
The bottom line is this: If you want to contribute to your employer, clients, customers and other key stakeholders at a higher level, developing your visual thinking skills is an excellent investment in your future. And mind mapping software is one tool that you ought to have in your portfolio to help you to become a more effective synthesizer.
P.S. You can see more of David’s remarkable infographic work on his Visual Thinking Archive on Flickr.