Jamie Nast is the author of "Idea Mapping" published by John Wiley & Sons. The book is available in the Business/Economics section of bookstores. Jamie has trained over 15,000 people world-wide to be more creative, more productive and better learners.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hint #3 - Don't Get Caught in the 1-Word Per Line Trap

Idea Mapping has a rich heritage in mind mapping. Mind mapping is governed by a set of strict laws -- each of which have merit in certain situations. For 15 years I've seen professionals struggle with trying to stick to using one word per branch. Mappers were frustrated and didn't understand the rigidness of this law. In certain circumstances they would give up on this tool over this one issue.

That's why I use the term "Idea Mapping". Idea maps don't restrict you to the laws of mind maps, and there is freedom to make an informed choice knowing when (on rare occassion) it is beneficial to follow a rule. So when should you use a single word?
  1. I think the first answer is that the fewer words you can use and still remember the meaning -- the better. It saves space, teaches you to trust your memory, and makes the map less cluttered. This allows you to see interconnections more clearly.
  2. Secondly, keep in mind that a single word will generate more thoughts than a phrase. A phrase will narrow subsequent associations. So if you have a very broad topic on which you need to brainstorm, single key words might be useful. But my experience has taught me that most brainstorming topics in the business world are specific and need definition, not just a key word.

So although I understand the reasoning behind using single key words, the bottom line is that idea mappers should use as many words as necessary for the purpose of their application. Don't let some rule stand in the way of success.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

"Celebration of Life" Map

A few days ago I got an unusual call asking me to create a map for this person's friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I called it a "Celebration of Life" map. One of my Idea Mapping facilitators was a perfect fit for this assignment. If the family permits, I'll share the actual map when it is done. Meantime, consider this application if you find the need to celebrate someone's life in this unusual way.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Live Idea Mapping - An Advanced Application

On Friday March 23rd I joined forces with a long-time client of mine. She is an IT Systems Thinking expert in a large automotive company in southeastern Michigan. Her job was to facilitate an internal organization through a 4.5-hour process that analyzed where they were at today and how they would co-create their future. I'm guessing there were somewhere between 200-250 leaders in attendance.

Afterwards, the entire group had an opportunity to share outcomes, responses, and their thoughts going forward. My role at this point was to create 3 Idea Maps as the group responded to 3 different questions. The idea maps were created live using MindManager software and projected on a huge screen at the front of the room so that the participants could see it grow in the moment. No one in the room had seen this method of capturing data. I made jpgs of the maps and they will be distributed to all of the participants as part of the meeting follow-up and next steps. In my book I call this "Real-Time Idea Mapping".

I highly recommend this technique for those of you who feel very comfortable with your idea-mapping skills. I've done this live using hand-drawn maps as well, but in this instance there was no way for the group to see the outcome without projecting the maps. My only suggestion when capturing data live is that you need to move FAST and it helps if you can have one additional person sitting next to you who might hear something you don't because the information comes at you so quickly. Those issues discussed in the meeting will be more memorable as a result of using this tool. Due to the proprietary nature of the content, I can't share these examples, sorry.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Idea Map #5 - Turning Around a Failing Project

Idea Maps 4 & 5 come from Michelle Saykally and Barbara Ansell who own Consulting Excellence, Inc. out of Pasadena, California. They teach a workshop called, "Mapping for Project Managers".

Map #5 shows project managers how to turn around a failing project.

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Idea Map #4 - PM Career Opportunities

Idea Maps 4 & 5 come from Michelle Saykally and Barbara Ansell who own Consulting Excellence, Inc. out of Pasadena, California. They teach a workshop called, "Mapping for Project Managers".
Map #4 show Career Opportunities for project managers.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Idea Map #3 - Why Do Lions Hunt?

Dave Gunby, a long time friend and Idea Mapper shares this story about his older son, Dain.

"One of his first grade projects was to research the answer to the question Why Do Lions Hunt? It was a wonderful opportunity to find out more about lions and for me to share Idea Mapping with him. Very early in the process, I realized that he didn’t quite have the spatial allocation skills to use a pen and paper for Idea Mapping (had to be on an 8½ x 11-inch sheet of paper), so we used my computer and Mind Manager software.
I started off by asking him, “What other questions does that make you think of?” Each of the new questions became their own main branch. Then we started to do our research. As he read different articles, we answered his questions. We then went into the Idea Map and Dain typed in the answer on the branches associated to the question branch.
To make the map look even cooler, we imported some pictures. All told, it only took us about an hour. While Dain had seen me make Idea Maps before, he now got a chance to do one of his own."


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Helpful Hint #2 - The Linear Thinking Trap (Even Within a Whole-Brained Idea Map)

Today we continue in the Helpful Hint series by tackling the issue of linear thinking. You could be restricting yourself while creating maps -- without realizing it. Let's say you have your central topic drawn in the middle of your page. As you begin to add ideas to your map, there is a tendancy to get caught in one of 3 traps. They are:
  • Taking a chronological approach to generating ideas. This is more common if you are developing a presentation or documenting a sequential process.
  • Completing all of your main branches before adding any detail branches.
  • Completing one entire branch before moving on to other branches.

If you are forcing your ideas to be captured in any of these ways (rather than following your natural associations), this may cause you to lose ideas that come sequentially later in the presentation or process. The solution is to document ideas as they come to you and worry about re-ordering them later.

Email info@ideamappingsuccess.com if you have any struggles with Idea Mapping, and we'll post a hint!

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Idea Map #2

This week I received an idea map from Ken Robert, a creative career coach. Following is his description of this map:

"I use idea maps to review the assignments my clients complete and send to me before a creative career consultation. I look for repeating themes that stand out and research ideas tailored to their personalities and passions. More detail comes out during the session, but these maps really help me pull together every thing they provide prior to the session."

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