Friday, 22 June 2007

Professional Mind Maps with iMindMap

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Those that know me will know that I am a fan of Mind Maps. They will also know that just because I am a fan does not mean that I am any good at them!

For those less familiar with the technique, it was developed by a Brit named Tony Buzan and is a technique for capturing information in a diagram in order to make it easier to remember and to explain to others. ("The Mind Map Book" by Tony and Barry Buzan was published by BBC Books). Through the use of branches like a tree and good use of color and shape you can create some stunning memory aides.

Mind maps are in use all over the world and have been adapted for many purposes, particularly in the planning and presentation fields.

There have been several attempts (some very popular) at producing computer software to construct these maps. I have products from Mindjet, Mind Mapper, and Mind Genius. To be honest my results have been at best mixed and at worst useless. This is not a reflection on the products but as much as anything on my ability to create them.

Then recently a friend of mine, Phil Chambers, invited me to attend one of his mind mapping courses. It was immediately apparent what the problem was. The mind mapping software did not follow the real principles behind mind mapping. Just as with so many software packages the interface forced you to work in a certain way, and a way that actually meant not follow the rules!

It was then that I discovered a great new product iMindMap from Tony Buzan himself, it is a really great way of creating maps for yourself on your PC or Mac, I have been using the beta version on and off for a few months and have to say from a personal point of view it knocks the spots off of anything else I have seen. You can try it free for 30 days or you can purchase for less than £60 – including 3 years of free updates - that is what you call future proofing!

By the way if anyone is interested in learning about how to mind map then I would of course recommend Phil Chambers, who is a former world memory champion, an expert in the areas of mind mapping and accelerated learning and creating a better memory. During my course he made me rather sick, I gave him a gift of the Daniel Pink book "A whole New Mind" and in no time at all he had sent me back a mind map of the book, which with permission I reproduce here.

I have posted the larger version on my web site and you can access it by clicking here.

If you too would like to see just how professional looking mind maps should look then you can see more of Phil's work by clicking here but be warned, if you think the things we produce in software are good you might be in for a big a surprise.

As people who have attended my classes will testify I am fascinated by mind maps and there use in the process world, mainly because the holy grail ahs to be to find a way to express and share processes that people can readily understand. I don't mean through technical notations or clever words, I mean that people can just intuit.

Mind maps have a particular value in that they are now being taught to children at school as a means for them to revise for exams and to remember information. I have a belief that if this is what today's children are learning then it is a technique that tomorrows business leaders will be using, therefore the sooner we work out how to use them effectively for process then the sooner we will all be on the same page.

Finally I think that iMindMap takes us one step closer to being able to realize that ambition.

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