Friday, March 4, 2016

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map

Another thought blog by Visual Mapper

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map:

But should I?

A conundrum of a question for sure isn't it? We're 40+ years since the modern formalization of a hand drawn technique called Mind Mapping developed by the father of the arena; Mr. Tony Buzan.

Tony completely understood then as we now do; how the human brain works at a microscopic level and expressed it so beautifully as the mind map.

Looking at the synaptic explosion of connections within a mind map, and experiencing what can be achieved by utilizing the radiant graphical layout to express information and knowledge, is quite phenomenal for many. -----But not for all.

Why not for all?

Now as far as I'm concerned, mind mapping is an amazing graphical tool that simply must be experienced in order to understand the deeper implications for personal, academic and business advantages. And after that initial usage, it usually takes more than one pass; insights are delivered and epiphanies realized.

Yes there's something about mind mapping that takes you further down the rabbit hole of curiosity. And we never want to climb out of that rabbit hole, as we go deeper we realize we're evolving at an exponential rate regarding graphical information management.

The wide scope of uses have been realized by a few developers who've expanded upon the original Buzan concept. There's a few capable developers who've added functions and capabilities, presenting them within their products to the market as extremely effective business productivity tools.

Not for all though; and it's such a shame mind mapping has been almost relegated to the fringes of the mainstream many developers really did hope to conquer. It may still happen though.

The wholesale adoption just didn't pan out, and regardless of any well meaning attempts to drive mind mapping into the mainstream via associations, groups, forums and business models, it still hasn’t to date (1st Q 2016) gained any real measure of mainstream notoriety. There are of course outliers that doggedly presume mainstream adoption is just around the corner. Oh my: I may be one of them, but then I do dream.

I believe the “Why not for all” question is easily answered by the drive by most developers to laser focus their iteration of mind mapping to business, rather than a balanced offering to the general public too. Mind mapping has been marketed by most developers solely as a business tool.

Mind mapping can and does indeed cover the three distinct usage areas of personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity. But IMO to laser focus solely on the business arena has been to the detriment of fully exposing to personal and academic uses too.

We certainly can't blame the developers for aiming their marketing strategies at business use only. Taking a look at the majority of software offerings, it's clear they've added functions and capabilities personal users in particular simply don't need, require or demand.

So what is needed to happen in order for mind mapping to gain maximum exposure? Surely we visual thinkers with a mind mapping bent haven't been doing the exposure thing all wrong; have we?

From my perspective ThinkBuzan; the developer of the excellent iMindMap information mapping product; have like most other software mind mapping developers, joined the visual mapping genre offering multiple graphical layouts that transforms them into Visual mapping product.

The Mind mapping software developers realized that to have more or maximum exposure, they'd have to add more graphical formats and functions that would enable their products to be perceived as a business productivity tool-set.

And so the cost of having this kind of Visual mapping software went up, because it made marketing and financial sense by the developers to be perceived as growing in relevancy by an exclusivity of cost to user.

In reality we now have Visual mapping products that have expanded upon the original and traditional Buzan approach, adding graphical layouts such as concept type of mapping, rudimentary flow charting, Excel range inputs, calcs, Gantt and more.

The cost though; yes the cost always comes into it. But if the main marketing drive is towards the business arenas, businesses can indeed justify the cost of owning or subscribing to this visual mapping product/service?

But the personal users: can they justify the high cost of purchasing this kind of product? The price range doesn't seem to have a really wide affordability scope for single users. There are a couple of products that do lie within a really affordable range for the single user who has the cash to throw at a visual mapping product. But as a close colleague stated to me recently; “Wallace you do all this stuff with your visual mapping software and I can accomplish the same deliverable results using MS Office and other office product ranges”.

Damn don't you hate it when the reality check moment slaps you in the face? And yes it is indeed true that many simply don't tune into in particular mind mapping. And they may use other tools and formats such as flow charts, Excel and even info-graphics; producing similar results and in many cases a more comprehension rate of understanding by their recipients.

The challenge for those with a mind mapping bent like us? It's to integrate the format ever so subtly to our particular mainstreams. Whether it may be contained within an email as an image file or printed off and showcased in your office, factory floor or classroom; it's always been about the user taking the initiative. And that is a natural process for the mind mapper who's become so passionate about the tool and format to the point of being an evangelist for the format.

The developers know this and are delighted to see others create groups, associations and business models based on their tools. These user groups have become the unwitting unpaid marketers of their products. But the question must be asked of most developers; why create your product knowing it has such a wide scope and then almost step back and watch the landscape be produced by well meaning enthusiasts?
Another conundrum of course; the developers have actually enabled the arenas associated with mind/visual and knowledge mapping to be defined by the users to a point. Ultimately though the developer controls the product/service.

Questions just start piling upon each other after awhile and the developers arena gets fogged over by crisis of identity, purpose and relevancy. After all we do have a huge and ever growing tool-box called Visual Mapping that includes but isn't exclusive to mind mapping.

But Mind mapping endures by the very nature of the arena that has been developed mainly by the users. The developers have tried to create community and togetherness according to their file format. And for the most part they've failed to go mainstream due to the lack of community and togetherness.

I mentioned file format; this has been the enduring battle for supremacy between developers. My format is more popular that yours eh. It's still relevant as MindManager, ImindMap and Xmind file formats have become the most used formats.

Regardless of all the confusing and distracting issues associated with the mind mapping arena; I remain to be a knowledge consultant with a mind mapping bent. And yes, I equally use flow charts, concept maps, statistical ranges and info-graphics too. I'm a Visual Mapper.

I Think Therefore I Might Mind Map: and YOU?

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