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.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hint #5 - If Your Idea Map Gets Messy, Should You Re-draw It?

What do you do when your map gets a bit sloppy? The purpose of your idea map or mind map may fall into one of several categories, so let me provide some suggestions for some scenarios.
  1. This idea map is for my "to do" list. For some reason there can be a tendancy for people (myself included) to want these maps to look like pieces of artwork instead of seeing them as functional tools created to meet a purpose. I had to allow myself to cross off completed items and squeeze new items onto the maps until the map was such a mess I needed to start fresh. Recreating the map each time it got a tiny bit messy, became a waste of time. These types of maps should not be re-drawn until absolutely necessary.
  2. This idea map is for an application that has a sequence to it (a process, a schedule, or a presentation for example). During the creation of a map the ideas are generated randomly, so it is unlikely that your map will be perfectly sequential on the first draft. The initial map provides the opportunity for you to step back and see the data from the big picture view. This enables you to re-sequence (maybe by numbering the branches), discover relationships between data points, and in some cases re-organize. If you are creating a linear document from this map, there is no need to re-draw. If you are using this map in the future or presenting from it, I would re-draw a final version.
  3. This idea map contains a large amount of information. If you find the re-drawing process cumbersome or annoying, maybe you should use software to make the editing process extremely easy.
I guess the bottom line is to determine the purpose of your map before re-drawing it multiple times. Don't re-draw the map just for the sake of re-drawing. Sloppy idea maps can be just as useful as the most beautifully drawn example!

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4 Comments:

Blogger Steve Rothwell said...

Hi Jamie

I thought this posting was timely. I had been reviewing the map in an earlier posting, "Idea Map #8 - Celebration of Life". Whilst a beautiful and meaningful map, I felt that I would not use this style in most everyday situations. For brain dumps I do something fast, furious and often unstructured. Where I want to remember significant pieces of data, I draw maps using a style which allows the words to stand out from the lines, and have them almost be self-defining in terms o fthe overall visual structure of the map. The "Celebration of Life" fulfils a different purpose again, being a beautiful memento or gift, worthy of framing and keeping on display.

I think this posting is timely as it reminds us all to think about the purpose of our maps before starting and to employ a style appropriate to that purpose.

1:47 AM

 
Blogger Jamie Nast said...

Steve,

I appreciate your comments very much, and you are SO right. I'm guessing 70% of my maps are a mess based on their purpose. Next time I create one that is a disaster, I'll post it. Would you consider sharing one of your more typical maps?

Jamie

4:58 AM

 
Blogger Steve Rothwell said...

Hi Jamie

Yes, I'd be delighted to share a map or two. I've found a typical 'fast and furious' example. It breaks so many rules and yet it turns out to have been one of the most important maps I ever drew.

What's the best way to share it?

Steve

10:13 AM

 
Blogger Jamie Nast said...

Steve,

Can't wait to see "fast and furious" and any others you have. If you can send me a jpg and your description(s), I can use that format for the blog. Then I can make it into a pdf file for my website. Looking forward to learning how this was such an important map. Many thanks for your willingness to share.

Jamie

12:06 PM

 

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