Thursday, 28 November 2013

Getting Organized with Mind Maps

It is the CEO's job to simplify complexity and explain their vision to others so that everyone knows their role in delivering goals.  I have explored various tools to help me to do this better.

I have done quite a bit of work over the past few years with management consultants and one of them in particular drilled regularly that "structure sets you free".  I was dubious at first as I have never seen myself as a left brainer.  Instead my adult life has been punctuated by being a last minute junkie - pulling all nighters to write student essays to late night powerpoint sessions before pitches - old habits die hard.

He patiently taught me how to take big picture ideas and break them into their constituent parts so that you can easily organise and implement.  Consultants call this approach MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive).  This has made a huge difference to my efficiency and also that of those who work with you.  One way to think about this is the well-worn phrase "You can't can't eat an elephant but you can eat an elephant sandwich". It is one of the most useful ideas to bear in mind if you want to maxmise work life balance and still be a high achiever.

Taking this into my daily life I have found mind maps invaluable. I started with a wonderful book called "mind mapping in a week" written by the king of mind mapping Tony Buzan and a pack of coloured pens. This got me rather odd looks from people but captured my imagination. Then I discovered mind mapping software and I was away.

Now I have an Ipad and use Mind Jet - their Ipad app is my standby. It is completely intuitive, and can be used across multiple platforms. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you like variety I have also used Visual Mind which is a good version for teams to use.  I have complete confidence that I can create anything on a page from the most complicated three year business plan to a shopping list.

I think mind mapping is paritcularly suited to women. It is accepted that women multi-task better than men - recently tested interestingly and proved to be true.  Multi-tasking  involves linking sub tasks together to get a job done in the shortest time possible which is the idea behind mind-mapping.   This makes mind-mapping very natural and easy - almost relaxing. There is something extremely satisfying about making sure you've captured each step you need to achieve a major goal - rather like the satisfaction you can get from a really clean pile of washing and ironing.

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