Have you ever looked at mindmapping from the outside (i.e. not being an advocate or practitioner) and passed it off as the passing behavior of a team building workshop?
I am not about to say you have got it wrong, because that artist’s version of mindmapping has a place and it is in the connection of thoughts and ideas into a logical, though not necessarily a linear thought capture.
Why Care about Mindmapping?
Mindmapping is amazingly constructive and efficient and mindmapping software is the single most effective workplace productivity tool. In saying that, I would add that is possibly the worst marketed and explained software to have ever been sent into the world.
There is no other tool that supports all of the uses in the diagram above, but more than broad functionality, it inherently encourages dialogue. This is achieved in a variety of ways, from the loose and unstructured of brainstorming to the building of presentation or proposal outlines.
But as with many tools, they are not all made equal and this is so in the world of mindmapping software.
If we start with an acceptance that pen and paper are the base level for producing mindmaps, I will share my experiences with 3 applications:
There are a lot more in the marketplace but I will summarise my likes from theses apps.
Simplemind is a basic tool and works across multiple platforms. I use it on my PC, iPhone and iPad. Given it is a simple tool, it is also easy to maximise the benefits. The pricing is at an attractive point and the link above will take you to their site (no affiliate link here or with the other 2 apps).
Whilst it is a simple and effective tool, it doesn’t go far beyond capture, publish and present.
iThoughts provides fundamental tools as per the Simplemind app and has recently launched a Windows version to build our its multi-platform coverage. An aspect of iThoughts that is fantastic is the “doodle” function. It allows the live and freehand drawing from within the mindmap. I have found this especially useful when presenting as I can “doodle” onto the iPad and capture the free form annotations exactly as they were expressed in the meeting.
This short video illustrates the doodling:
MindManager is a standout by way of functionality, integration and sophisticated inbuilt capability. It does come at a higher price point than the other apps introduced above and does deliver significantly more productivity levers.
In addition to the basic capture, collaborate and publish, MindManager provides the following:
1. Create project Gantt charts, process flows, concept maps, flowcharts, timelines and more.
2. Zapier Integration.
3. Advanced Project Scheduling: advanced Gantt chart and resource views, project scheduling tools, and reporting.
4. MindManager Server & SharePoint Synchronization.
5. View maps stored in SharePoint in your browser. Query and synchronize SharePoint tasks and more.
An element I used in planning this post was to build my 30 day outline as per below.
But more importantly, I used the “notes” functionality where I select a branch of the map and an associated text window opens. The window is now my capture point for all text associated with that branch and in this case, it is the post you are reading at this time.
The notes-linked-to-outline is a simple way of building out a larger document such as a business proposal once you have used the flexibility of mindmapping to brainstorm the flow and structure of the document before the earnest writing begins.
As may seem clear, I am a huge fan of the mindmapping tool. Fandom that has been built over many years of enjoying benefits for personal and team planning plus communicating with clients.
I do use all apps but mostly I use MindManager due to its depth and breadth of functionality. There is more to the app than what has been touched on above and I will go into some of the more powerful business value aspects in future posts.