20 November 2009

I'm holding out for the "Mind GPS"

The key to successful management is getting things organized—ideas, people, and projects—in order to get the work done on time and under budget.

The best way to do this is with a project chart. And there's no better way to get organized than with a mind map. This article shows you how. You'll learn:


Why use a mind map


How to create a mind map, and


How to use a mind map to manage projects

1. Why use a mind map

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A mind map is a visual outline with the central box as the top-level idea, topics as bullets below it, sub-topics as elements of each bullet, and so on.

A mind map is a very efficient way to record ideas during a brainstorming session and to organize them into a coherent plan, afterwards.

Why use a mind map instead of an outline?
Mind maps are better than outlines because:

  • They are easier to read than bulleted lists
  • They are better for brainstorming
  • They are much more interesting than bullets when presenting your ideas in a PowerPoint® presentation
  • They are much more spatially efficient since you can branch out your ideas horizontally (lists grow mostly vertically)
  • Mind maps let you see what you're thinking; bulleted lists don't convey ideas with the same level of clarity as a mind map

2. How to create a mind map

Let's use the launch of a new product as an example:

Step 1. Start with a Few Initial "Big Topics."

This product is going to be handled by a reseller channel. The big topics are:

  • Recruiting the resellers
  • Training them
  • Creating sales collaterals they can use
  • Generating customer leads for them
  • Using PR to increase awareness about the product

Step 2. Refine each "Big Topic" with a few Specific "Areas of Interest."

We took the original list and expanded on each node with a few increasingly specified subtopics; here's how our mind map appears in outline format:

  • Go to Market Plan
    • PR
      • Press Releases
      • Hire Agency
      • Press Tour
    • Lead Generation
      • Direct Mail
      • Print Ads
    • Product Collaterals
      • Data sheet
      • Web site
      • E-mails
      • Print Ads
    • Sales Training
      • Reseller Kit
      • Video
    • Recruit Resellers
      • E-mail to list
      • Call leads

See how we have much more space to get information across when we use a mind map? Now we're going to take it one step further.

Step 3. Refine, Add More Subtopics, then Repeat.

You can keep iterating through subtopics until you have covered the full set of possible topics. A bulleted list with this much content would become less and less legible, but a mind map remains manageable.

3. How to use a mind map to get projects done

In our example, we used a mind map to identify all the work involved in our product launch plan. The next step, to actually get these projects done, is to:

Convert your mind map into an actionable project plan.
Each of the main topics in our map can be considered a top-level task in a product launch project. The sub-topics are sub-tasks. The mind map can then be considered a blueprint for completing the project.

To get the project started and manage it through completion, we need to view the tasks in the context of a project plan. Here's how:

Make each box in your mind map a line item in the second column of your project chart. Use the first column to number your tasks and sub tasks as shown below. Then add start dates and task durations.

(SmartDraw converts your mind map to a project chart automatically with a single mouse-click. You can also toggle between mind map and project chart views for easy editing.)

Click here to learn how to use mind maps and project charts to organize and manage projects using SmartDraw.


How to Manage a Project
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1 comment:

  1. I like reading about the mind mapping concepts and principals, but when it comes down to it... a paper and pencil list of to-do's seems to work rather well.