Have you ever experienced the following? You and your supervisor (or coworker or one of your direct reports) are not on the same page in relation to a work issue, vision, etc.? Meaning he or she is thinking ‘XYZ’ and you had ‘ABC’ in mind? I experience this on a regular basis and what I have found that helps is to mind map with that individual. We are not talking Spock and Star Trek type of stuff but simply putting your words and thoughts on paper.
Mind mapping is easy. Take a single word, picture, or idea and write or draw it in the center of your drawing, picture, or diagram. Then, associate words related to your centered word by linking them together. Your diagram will grow as you add the associations. Sometimes, mind mapping is called a spider diagram since your diagram will spread like a web and your central word will weave with your other associations.
When you share your diagram with your supervisor, coworker, or direct report, he or she can understand your point of view very easily. In other words, you are being transparent which is good and often hard to repeat consistently. Mind mapping is a great tool to collaborate, problem solve, or help foster creativity.
I first started to mind map using a pencil and paper. Even though I am a doodler (ask my boss, Joel) I prefer to only use words and not pictures. If you never have tried mind mapping, this is the easiest route to try first. My only issue with hard copies is it is not as easy to share. Meaning you have to scan it or make a copy, etc.
So, I wanted to try mind mapping software and Googled it. There are many tools out there; some are free and some are not. I tried Coggle (http://coggle.it/) and found it extremely easy to use. I have created several mind maps using it. Best of all, Coggle is free. Sign up is simple since it uses a Google account.
Below is example of a mind map we created to communicate one of my direct report’s roles.
Like I said, Coggle is easy to use since you can quickly add or branch items. You can color code branches or sections to read easily. You can share individual maps with others and have the ability to download a version for those offline. Coggle also has a history mode where you can scroll through prior versions of your map.
Try mind mapping. It may feel weird at first, but get comfortable with it. Use pen and paper and when you want to upgrade, give Coggle a shot. I feel you will see the benefits of mind mapping and how a tool like Coggle will make it easier.