Mind maps are visual diagrams that arrange information, documents, images, and other digital artifacts around more central ideas. Creating mind maps help people think through problems and issues by allowing them to generate ideas by association.
Mind maps are easy to create. Here are some basic steps:
- Decide on the central idea and place it in the middle of the map. This can include things such as your book title, project name, a major deliverable, or a problem.
- Think of 3-5 main ideas and connect them with lines around the central idea. These could include things such as book chapters, sub-deliverables, or potential solutions.
- Now brainstorm and take each idea to another level and connect them with lines to the appropriate main idea. These may include items such as chapter sections, tasks needed to complete the sub-deliverable, and questions to ask to determine the best solution. As you go, you can collect images, documents, and other digital artifacts and attach them to keep everything in one place.
- Much like a work breakdown structure, keep going until you have all the information needed to easily write the book, create the sub-deliverable, or choose the best solution.
Mind maps can be very effective tools for organizing many common project planning and management deliverables. The central ideas in the mind map could be, but are not limited to,
- Test case tracking
- Problem solving
- Organization charts
- Meetings and minutes tracking
According to an article by Cathy Byrnes, using mind mapping in projects can help eliminate duplication of effort, encourage creative thinking, and make your presentations stand out. Her article contains more examples and ideas for including mind maps in project plans.
Personally, I use a combination of mind mapping and outlining when I'm creating a new book. For me, it helps me ensure completeness of the topics I want to cover. You can find a mind map (created by mind42.com) for the first edition of Risk Assessment Framework in a PDF.
Want to try a mind mapping application for your projects? There is a free trial of MatchWare's MindView 7 available here. Or if you prefer a cloud-based browser version, you can use Mind42 for free.
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