Software for mindmapping and information organization

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Visual mapping and recession-proofing your job

It looks like businesses are in for a tough time in 2008 and beyond. If your employer downsizes, how can you take steps to make sure you're one of the survivors?

Helping others see your value with visualization

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Surviving in a shrinking economy and nervous times is most often about being better than the next guy or gal. But it's not enough just to be better, if you are a cog in the machine, or even a bigger wheel, you need the higher levels to know that you're better. The fastest and most memorable way to get that message across is visually.

My advice to the real survivors is:
- Don't just know what you know, show what you know.
- Don't just know what you're planning, show what you're planning.
- Don't just know what you're doing, show what you're doing.

A well-organized mind map or series of maps can show all that quickly, and doesn't depend on the boss sitting down to read a report. As a consultant I've consistently found that the higher the level of a decision-maker is, the more often they want a diagram or some other visual encapsulation of a complex problem. They rarely want detail. Unless you are talking dollars and cents, of course. Even the micro-manager who wants to know everything will appreciate starting with a helicopter view.

Once you have hooked senior management's interest visually, using mind mapping software to go to the next stage shows that it's not just a party trick. Showing that a mind map that kicked off a presentation is linked directly to data that tracks, for example, progress or costs can be truly impressive. One of the "dashboard" add-ins for popular mind mapping software can help you pull that one off and keep it up to date automatically.

Or a project's main mind map, or series of maps, can be linked directly to files of information. Direct, clickable links on the maps allow project team members to find information they need quickly, just where they'd expect it to be, because they've worked with the same mind maps as they were developed.

Finally, out of the many possibilities, here's another chance for you to shine. If you work in an environment where there are too many meetings, mind maps can keep a meeting focused, record next actions and decisions made as you go alone, as well as making the meetings more effective, and shorter, as a result.

You'll be remembered and appreciated for that!

Vic Gee
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software.

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Good luck out there, and keep mind mapping!

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Writing, come what may

There's only a brief mention of mindmapping here, but it's obviously important to the author. Anyway, to me it's a great article on getting moving with writing. I hope you find it so, too.

Project estimating – Mindmaps are a tool in the armory

The key to getting something useful out of this article is to read the author’s title carefully. Mind mapping simplifies the process of project estimating -- it doesn’t simplify the actual task-time estimation. Every project manger knows that the work of a project must be broken into separate and manageable units for estimating. To look at a project and think “That’s about a week’s effort” is a recipe for frustration and missed targets. Mindmaps, spider diagrams and bubble charts are excellent for the first phase of breaking a project into manageable parts. For me mindmaps, as strictly defined by Buzan’s rules, are less suitable than spider diagrams for this type of analysis, but we can assume that Dr. Mariaraj is not being too strict in his use of the term below.

Tony Buzan has defined these "rules" for Mind Mapping:

I believe these rules are well worth following if you use mindmaps for learning. They are very hard to follow completely and rigidly - and its not worth trying I have found - if you use mindmaps in adult life, in your work or projects.

Who invented mind mapping

This comes up from time to time - usually in the form of "Buzan didn't invent mind mapping".

Underlying theory of Concept Maps

Here are links to important scholarly papers by Joseph D. Novak and Alberto J. Cañas on Concept Maps, their theory and construction.