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Mm executive education_applications_outcomes

  1. 1. Copyright © 1999 MCB. All rights reserved The Journal of Management Development, Vol 18 Issue 4 Date 1999 ISSN 0262-1711 Mind Mapping in Executive Education: Applications and Outcomes Anthony J. Mento Loyola College in Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA Patrick Martinelli Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and Raymond M. Jones Loyola College in Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA Developed by Tony Buzan in 1970, mind mapping is a revolutionary system for capturing ideas and insights horizontally on a sheet of paper. This paper illustrates the technique of mind mapping, and highlights its specific applications in a variety of contexts based on our work in executive education and in management development consulting. Positive outcomes of the approach are described as well as reactions of executive students to mind mapping. We conclude with a rationale of why we believe mind mapping works with executives. In our Executive MBA (EMBA) program, which was established in 1973 and is one of the ten oldest in the USA, students must skillfully balance a full-time job, social life, and full load of graduate courses simultaneously for the duration of the two-year program. Professors strive to continuously improve the content of their courses by having student teams design marketing studies, consult with small businesses (Lamond, 1995), run simulated international businesses (Nicholson, 1997), and design information systems for local businesses. Educators in management development programs also strive to enhance the process, the way in which courses are delivered ( i.e. team taught, cross- functional, distance learning). We are actively involved in discovering (through consulting and reading) and applying active learning methodologies developed for industry or the military to enable students to become more effective at analyzing, integrating, and consolidating new information. We also strive to increase the effectiveness and quality of our students’ learning in order to provide them with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Storyboarding, a creativity-enhancing and problem-solving technique (Humes et al., 1995) taught to our students, was developed by Walt Disney in 1928 and extensively and successfully applied in a total quality management
  2. 2. effort by utility company Florida Power and Light. This was the first American company to win the coveted Japanese Deming prize (Hart et al., 1989). Another active learning method used at our school (all the work reported here was accomplished when all three authors were affiliated with Loyola College) since 1991, is mandatory development of lessons learned by each student based on his or her learning from and reflection on class assignments, team projects, and prior career experiences (Barclay, 1996). This learning-after-doing reflection exercise, described by Garvin (1995) as a process rarely used by most US organizations, was introduced to our school in 1991 by a colleague who learned the technique in the US military. Refer to Sullivan and Harper (1996) when discussing After Action Reviews and the Center for Army Lessons Learned and Baird et al. (1997). One of the most frequently used pedagogical techniques in graduate business programs involves the use of case teaching. Teachers who are adept at lecturing are not necessarily effective case leaders (Christiansen and Hansen, 1987; Shapiro, 1985). Successful case teaching requires patience, a willingness to encourage open student participation, and (perhaps most importantly) an ability to subtly stimulate productive dialogue over a long period of time (Barnes et al., 1994; Rangan, 1995). We have found mind mapping to be a powerful tool for case teaching, especially in EMBA programs, where students are required to gather, interpret, and communicate large quantities of complex information. It is an extremely effective technique for sharpening the thinking and learning process (Buzan, 1989). Mind mapping is a creativity- and productivity-enhancing technique that can improve the learning and efficiency of individuals and organizations. It is a revolutionary system for capturing ideas and insights horizontally on paper. “It can be used in nearly every activity where thought, planning, recall or creativity are involved” (Buzan, 1989). Starting with a central image and key words, colors, codes, and symbols, mind mapping is rapidly replacing the more traditional methods of outlining and note taking in workplaces around the world (Margulies,
  3. 3. 1991). The proliferation and use of mind mapping software has and will continue to accentuate this trend. Figure 1. Uses for mind maps is an adaptation of Tony Buzan’s (1989) mind map of the uses of mind maps. (Buzan invented mind mapping and the term mind map is a registered trademark of the Buzan Organization, 1990). Figure 1. Uses for mind maps depicts six main uses of mind mapping as main branches emanating from the central idea. Detailed associative ideas are shown radiating from each of these main branches. Visual note taking has existed for centuries, as evidenced by cave drawings of primitive man, hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, and sketches of great thinkers such as Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. According to Margulies (1991), before we learn a language as children, we visualize pictures in our mind which are linked to concepts. Unfortunately, creative channels are often blocked when children are trained to write only words in one color on lined paper. A mind map allows the user to record a great deal of information on one page, and to show relationships among various concepts and ideas. Visual presentation of ideas helps one to think about a subject in a global, holistic sense and increases mental flexibility. On a mind map structures of the subject can be seen in a way that is not possible with linear outlines. Think of the last time you prepared a lecture or wrote a paper. How difficult was it to get started? How exactly did the process flow? When creating an outline, the writer has to wait until the first idea appears, Roman numeral one; then wait until another thought comes that follows in exact order and is a subset of the first one. Obviously our brains do not work that way; we have numerous thoughts, images, mental pictures, and impressions that occur simultaneously. Linear note-taking systems such as outlining cannot keep pace with the complexity of our thoughts but mind mapping can. The purpose of this paper is to describe the technique of mind mapping and to highlight specific applications in a variety of contexts based on our work in executive education and management development consulting. We provide specific examples of mind maps that our students have produced, and describe
  4. 4. positive outcomes due to this approach. Pilot data regarding student experiences with mind mapping are briefly discussed and our paper concludes with why we believe this technique works. What is mind mapping? Mind mapping was developed by Buzan in 1970 (Buzan and Buzan, 1996) after reviewing research on the psychology of learning and remembering. According to Buzan and Buzan (1996): The mind map is an expression of radiant thinking and is therefore a function of the human mind. It is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlocking the potential of the brain. The mind map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. The mind map has four essential characteristics: 1. The subject of attention is crystallized in a central image. 2. The main themes of the subject radiate from the central image as branches. 3. Branches comprise a key image or key word printed on an associated line. Topics of lesser importance are also represented as branches attached to higher level branches. 4. The branches form a connected nodal structure. Mind mapping represents a powerful aid for stimulating whole brain thinking (Buzan, 1989). It engages the often inactive right hemisphere of the brain by emphasizing spatial and visual language; it focuses on spurring creative as well as logical thought patterns. Whole brain thinking has become more desirable in today’s business environment as firms must innovate to meet intense competitive pressures. Survival and growth in the marketplace demand a continuous stream of new and different products and improved processes for creating and delivering value. Integrative and creative thinking requires the process of left- and right- brain thinking to produce synergistic outcomes.
  5. 5. Left- and right-brain thinking The upper brain is divided into two equal parts, the left and right hemispheres. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and the left hemisphere controls the right. The two sides are connected by the Corpus Callosum, a huge complex of fibres that allows both sides to be in constant communication with each other. Discovery of the dual nature of the human brain is usually attributed to the physiological psychologist Robert W. Sperry (1968). Sperry’s pioneering split-brain research and his work on neurospecificity was rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1981 and the National Medal of Science in 1990, among other awards. Concurrent with Sperry’s work was that of Ornstein (1977) who garnered worldwide fame for his studies of brainwaves and specialization of brain function. The essence of what Sperry and Ornstein discovered was that the two sides of a person’s brain, or cortices, deal dominantly with different types of mental activity. In most people, the left cortex is concerned with logic, words, reasoning, numbers, linearity, and analysis – the so- called academic activities. The right cortex is more in the “alpha wave” or resting state; it deals with rhythm, images and imagination, color, daydreaming, face recognition, and pattern or map recognition (Buzan, 1989). Zaidel (1983) continued Sperry’s work at the University of California. He discovered that each hemisphere contains many more of the “other side’s” abilities than was previously thought, and that each hemisphere is capable of a much wider and more subtle range of mental activities (Buzan, 1989). Buzan (1989) provides evidence suggesting that Einstein, Picasso, Cezanne, and da Vinci apparently used both sides of their brain in producing their most famous contributions. When human beings are effective at thinking creatively, they use both hemispheres. Failure to strike a balance in the double brain results in less than optimal creative thought and application. In some cases, an imbalance can result in dysfunctional thinking and suboptimal outcomes like groupthink (Janis, 1983).
  6. 6. In the Western world, thinking shows a decided bias toward the use of linear thought patterns when processing information, perhaps due to a high regard for Newtonian perceptions of the universe. Whatever the reason, formal learning activities in primary, secondary and post-secondary education traditionally stress linear thinking by emphasizing logic, sequence, and quantification. Linear thinking and decision making rely heavily on analysis, ordering of information in a definite pattern, and use of precise taxonomy. De Bono (1990) distinguishes between the two thought processes when he asserts that linear thinking is essentially selective in that “… one selects the most promising approach to a problem, the best way of looking at a situation. With lateral thinking one generates as many alternative approaches as one can”. For De Bono, vertical thinking is selective; lateral thinking is generative. If creativity relies on a Tao that balances the positive aspects of both lateral and linear thought processes, what mechanism is needed to accomplish this desired effect? How can an organization encourage thinking that is generative as well as selective and provocative as well as analytical? How can an organization stimulate non-sequential thought? Stated another way, how can organizations internalize in their members a need to question continually all paradigms related to existing products and processes. Mind mapping provides the answer; it is a tool that requires the use and interworking of both upper brain hemispheres (Buzan, 1989). How students learn how to develop mind maps One way we introduce students to mind mapping is by presenting an introductory lecture that includes the history of the approach (Buzan, 1970), the right brain-left brain distinction (linear versus generative or lateral thinking), and some uses for mind mapping. This takes about one hour, then students are involved in one or two hands – on exercises facilitated by the professor. To provide a sense of realism and practical utility for mind mapping, students next work on a specific pre-assigned case study. Randomly configured teams are
  7. 7. chosen and asked to focus on a particular aspect of the case, i.e. they are assigned one specific case question. Student teams are encouraged to discuss the question as a group for about 20 minutes, then each student is asked to generate his or her own mind map based on the specific assigned team case question. As students work on the assignment, the professor roams the classroom in order to identify which student from each team produced the best and most effective mind map for class presentation. One person from each team is carefully chosen to present their mind map to the class. We are careful here to ensure that students are exposed to a variety of different types of mind maps, some containing hand-drawn icons and pictures and others being simply words and ideas. An alternative to this approach, when time is of the essence, is to send each student enrolled in the course a packet of information a few days before class begins containing: 1) a brief description of mind mapping; 2) a more descriptive discussion (six pages) of mind mapping information found on the Internet using the alta vista search engine for the key words “Mind+Map”. This information includes a set of mind mapping “laws” developed by Buzan (1989) which include: • Start with a colored image in the center. • Use images throughout your mind map. • Words should be printed. • All printed words should be on lines, and each line should be connected to other lines. • Words should be in “units”, i.e. one word per line. • Use colors throughout the mind map. • The mind should be left as free as possible to make associations and connections. In addition, a set of five or six excellent mind maps from previous classes, as well as a short course-relevant article is included in the packet sent to students to allow them to practice mind mapping. To also get students thinking in terms of mind mapping, the first class and much of the future class board work developed by the professor is in the form of a mind map. For example, in the first class the agenda is mind mapped and superimposed on the overall course logic and sequencing of material that is
  8. 8. found in the syllabus. This role modeling is an effective impetus to the mind mapping process based on informal student feedback after the first few classes in different courses. Applications of mind mapping Because of its robust ability to evoke generative or non-linear thinking, the mind map has been used in many ways. Some of the more popular uses include writing, meeting management, project management, brainstorming, activity lists, visual aids, memory improvement, note taking, teaching, studying, personal growth, and presentations. One of the first ways that we used mind mapping with our students was to capture the essence or key points of an assigned reading in the form of descriptive mind maps. Descriptive mind maps Our experience in EMBA programs provides a snapshot of the use of mind maps. In a typical executive MBA course, a number of articles or readings are assigned each week centering around a particular topic. In most cases, all of the articles are related logically to a business case to be discussed. For example in our Leadership and Organizational Behavior course when performance appraisal and managing networks of relationships are discussed, we assign these articles: “Managing your boss” (Gabarro and Kotter, 1993), “Deming’s demons” (Bower, 1991), and “A solution to the performance appraisal feedback enigma” (Meyer, 1991). Students are expected to read all of the material for each class and remember the essence and key concepts of each article. For the fall semester of 1997 we asked a specific student or team of students to mind map particular articles for each class. Figure 2. Mind map of Deming’s demons (1991) article depicts a team’s mind map of the “Deming’s demons” article. Dr Deming’s central ideas of learning from the Japanese, that cooperation not competition is the basis for optimizing a system, that theory is the foundation of knowledge, and that intrinsic motivation (pride and joy in the work) are primary determinants of worker
  9. 9. behavior, are captured within the wavy diagonal line. Ideas to the left of the wavy diagonal enclosure suggest poor practices and outcomes related to practicing management by objectives and management without theory. Process and outcomes in harmony with Deming’s thinking are displayed to the right of the wavy enclosure. One student from each team was asked to brief the class on the mind map for a particular article. An unanticipated benefit of a well-developed mind map was that students were able to give concise, clear descriptions of the key points of an article without notes or apparent nervousness. It is important to note the use of icons and symbols in mind maps. One explanation of why students are able to deliver confident presentations without notes goes back to the inherent nature of mind mapping. It is a non-linear technique which allows the user to capture idiosyncratic information of importance. Users are more likely to remember because they select the information to go in the mind map, organize and display it in non-linear format for recall, and internalize it because it is their unique representation of the information. According to Buzan and Buzan (1996), the more one learns and gathers new data in an integrated, radiating, organized manner, the easier it is to learn more. Along these lines, Schneider and Bowen (1995) note that people naturally form a “cognitive schema” (a type of mind map) in their minds that allows them to make efficient sense of how different things in the world work. These schema organize how we experience the world and determine how we integrate information from our surroundings. New information is integrated into existing schema, even when the information is different from what we have experienced in the past. For example, in a service situation, if service has been great in the past, a not-so-great experience may not readily change our overall impression. The reverse is also true; if service has traditionally been poor and we have a single good experience, our overall impression is that it remains poor. As a rule, it takes a significant amount of different information to change a customer’s prevailing impression of a business’ service quality.
  10. 10. Integrative mind map applications As the fall semester progressed, we moved past descriptive mind maps to those that captured key insights and concepts from a number of articles. The advantage of this approach is that it enabled higher-order thinking by forcing students to go beyond concrete thinking to a more analytical and conceptual approach. With this method, students were asked to integrate three different readings into a case analysis and to capture the essence of a week’s worth of work on a one-page mind map. For this particular situation, the topic was leadership; the readings were “Four star management” (Finegan, 1987), Ch. 6 in The Essence of Leadership (Locke and Associates, 1991), and the Kouzes and Posner Leadership Model (Kouzes and Posner, 1987). The case to which all of the readings were logically related was Mahatma Gandhi and the video Gandhi (Briley, 1983). Figure 3. Team developed integrated mind map – Mahatma Gandhi case displays one team’s integrated mind map. The main branches of the mind map include the four key components of Locke’s leadership model: motives and traits; knowledge, skills, and abilities; developing a vision; and implementing the vision. The associative ideas and images radiating from the branches integrate events in the Gandhi case and video with ideas from Kouzes and Posner and “Four star management”. Students were required to see logical connections and common themes and concepts between the readings and the case and video. Although this mind map took the team many hours to produce, it effectively captured the majority of key learning for the week. The team that produced the mind map commented that producing a written case analysis (which the team was required to do) after the integrative mind map was completed was fairly simple. This was the first integrative mind map that a team developed and it was so well done that everyone in class requested a copy. Mind mapping with the case analysis process
  11. 11. We use business case studies on a regular basis and have found mind mapping to be a powerful analytical tool. To maximize the effectiveness of case analysis classes, these classes must be carefully planned and orchestrated (Rangan, 1995). For each class during the semester, we assign three or four articles to augment the case to be analyzed. The readings are carefully chosen to provide both a context as well as important concepts to help students understand the case. For each class, a specific student is assigned on the first day of the semester a specific article or reading to mind map, as part of his or her grade. A typical class begins as follows: we introduce the topic, establish the context, and deliver a brief lecturette. To review the week’s assignment, each student who has been assigned a mind map for that particular day brings a transparency to class as well as copies for everyone in class. The students explain their mind maps, answer any questions and are asked to conclude their presentations with the three most important things they will take to their job as a result of mind mapping the readings. After the students have finished their presentations and answered questions from the class (30-45 minutes), we proceed with the case analysis phase of the class. For each case assigned during the semester, students receive a set of three to seven case discussion questions (part of their syllabus on the first day of class). The explicit purpose of case discussion questions is to cue and sensitize students to important issues in the case, and help them prepare for the case discussion. We conduct the case analysis in one of two ways; the first approach involves writing the overall theme of the case on the board in the center box of a to-be- developed mind map. The professor then generates a number of key issues that go on the “branches” around the central theme. For example, we use the Tiberg case as an opening case in our leading change course. In the center box of the mind map, we write “Tiberg – key change issues”. (The Tiberg case concerns a fumbled attempt by the newly hired VP of purchasing, Mr Porte, to impose a significant top-down change within a decentralized organization.) Typical concepts laid out on “branches” emanating from the central box are:
  12. 12. • culture of the organization; • power base for Mr Porte; • problem definition; • implementation process; • political issues; • recovery strategy; and • role of strategists, implementors, and recipients. We identify as many branch issues as there are executive MBA (EMBA) teams (most EMBA programs use a team format from the first day of classes). Each team member is assigned one of the specific branch concepts to work on individually for ten minutes. The professor then facilitates the development of one mind map for the entire class as each individual’s input is solicited in a focused brainstorming fashion. After about 45 minutes of questions, discussion, and evaluation, the board is filled with key ideas that capture the essence of the learning outcomes of the case. This approach involves both linear and non-linear thinking since structure (left-brain thinking) is provided to students via the branch concepts of the mind map, developed by the professor. This mind map is later refined, as key concepts are consolidated and integrated. A second approach frequently involves facilitation of the case discussion by a pre-assigned team. The facilitating team presents their agenda on an overhead and briefly reviews the key facts in the case using a timeline (if appropriate). The team then randomly divide the class into five teams. Under this scenario, the number of teams created corresponds to the number of case discussion questions previously provided all students in preparation for the day’s class. Each extemporaneously created team is asked to mind map one of the case discussion questions. (One advantage of random assignment of students to teams for the exercise is that students work together with class members other than those on their formal teams with whom they have been associated for the past two years.) Each extemporaneously created team works on the assigned question as a group for 15 to 20 minutes, and is expected to generate amind map on flip chart paper or transparency for presentation to the class. A representative from each team presents their team’s mind map to the class and
  13. 13. fields any questions. Using this approach to mind mapping for case analysis produces five mind maps corresponding to the number of teams assigned discussion questions to work on. With this approach, the discussion questions provide the structure or guiding logic for the exercise. The third use for mind maps in case analysis occurs at the end of class. Our goal in this instance is to capture final student meaningful insights from students, as well as provide a sense of closure to the class’ work for that day. We write “Today’s lessons learned” in the center of the mind map and ask students to think about what they have learned from preparing for class individually, thinking about the material, and class discussion. Students are allotted ten minutes to reflect individually and to generate ideas. This process can be conducted in teams after initial individual reflection, or left as an individual exercise. If time permits, one advantage of the team approach is that it allows team members to reflect on and share their lessons learned, and test them for clarity before presenting to the class as a whole. When time does not allow for this approach, the mind map is developed by calling on class members to share the important “take aways” that they will remember. Class ends with distribution and discussion of a mind map prepared by the professor that contains key lessons and learning outcomes developed from teaching the case over the years to a variety of clients and students. This closing handout provides a bounded structure for creative ideas generated by the class as a whole in developing the last mind map. The way in which we use mind mapping in our case analysis classes involves a blending of structure and creativity (left- and right-brain thinking). The structure is provided by the professor who specifies core concepts to work on (in the Tiberg case), uses previously assigned discussion questions in the second example, and, in the final example, asks students to integrate lessons learned developed by the class in the final mind map with those provided in the structured handout. The integration of all of these activities occurs with a required assignment for students to develop a two-page personalized set of lessons learned for each class during the semester.
  14. 14. Mind maps and group process analysis A key component of our EMBA program first-year skills-building component is building effective teams (Rushmer, 1997). Students are required to work in teams at their first meeting, in a three-day, in-residence session that meets before the formal academic part of the program begins. During the residence, students learn and experience team development as they work together on challenging problems in various performance contexts (Katzenbach and the RCL team, 1995). Students are taught to be very cognizant of their team’s group process (i.e. how they function as a group, whether or not they adhere to the mutually agreed-upon norms on team functions that members have developed as a team (“code of conduct”). Towards the end of the semester, in the leadership and organizational behavior course, each team performs an analysis of their group’s functioning, using a mind map format. The class assignment focuses on team strengths, weaknesses, and suggests opportunities for improvement. Existing teams use team-building concepts to identify specific areas for improvement. For existing teams, team building involves three steps. The team first conducts a diagnosis of how it is functioning. A useful tool is the team process checklist used extensively with our clients for team process diagnosis. At this point, a meaningful mind map should be generated by an individual team member or by the team. The mind map is used as a primary tool to facilitate the next step, discussing group process data. At this point the team is tasked with the third step, formulating an acceptable action plan to improve the team process. A typical action plan focuses on redefining team roles and responsibilities, changing meeting patterns and decision making, and more clearly defining goals and objectives (Beer and Holland, 1989). A mind map is used to facilitate this action planning phase. The team-building process described for existing teams is a continuous improvement activity that requires periodic follow-up.
  15. 15. Positive outcomes from the mind mapping process A number of our executive students have made clear and forceful presentations using only a transparency of their mind map and with no fumbling with note cards. After carefully developing their mind maps, these same executives are able to handle challenging and probing questions in a confident and succinct fashion, without hesitation. We believe that self-confidence and mastery of the presented material can be attributed to information which is better remembered since it has been captured and stored spatially, rather than linearly. In our management development training programs and consulting activities with various firms, we ask our students to reflect carefully on significant blocks of new learning material that we have covered and generate a set of lessons learned. This standard assignment stems from our strong belief that self-reflection is extremely critical for learning, and that writing personal lessons learned is the best way for students to own and remember important material (Daudelin, 1996; Barclay, 1996). Capturing learning based on one’s work experiences is one of the building blocks for establishing a learning organization. We typically ask our clients to reflect on new learning concepts, ideas, frameworks, and materials in a way that is personally meaningful to their lives. Specifically we ask them three questions: 1. “What did you learn?” 2. “Why was it important?” 3. “How can you apply it?” For the authors, use of mind maps has become almost second nature. We use mind maps to develop the agenda and plans for each class, which allow for considerable flexibility and last-minute improvements. We typically begin writing papers by developing a detailed mind map which serves as the main driver to the process of creative thinking. In developing a management development program for first-level supervisors, one of the authors first mind mapped the overall
  16. 16. themes to be developed in the three-day training session. More detailed mind maps were developed with colleagues that depicted a detailed hour-by-hour agenda of the materials and concepts to be presented as well as learning outcomes desired. The unanticipated advantage was that the mind maps could be presented to our clients and to explain where we were going with the training and why and how it fitted their needs. In addition, changes could be quickly made in pencil or electronically to the mind maps and connections could be made between non-obvious topics as the discussion progressed. Some time ago, one of us noticed that he was mentally mind mapping the homily delivered by our parish priest during the Christmas service. He quickly arrived at the conclusion that it lacked a basic underlying logic related to the key theme! What our students tell us about the mind mapping process Preliminary data collected from pilot questionnaires with over 70 executive students generally indicate that they are very pleased with the power and simplicity of the technique, and its significant advantage over linear note taking for recall and creative thinking. Those who are most enthusiastic about using mind mapping are like “apostles” of the technique, passionately spreading the word to their spouses, children, and colleagues at work. All of our sample respondents agreed that one becomes much better with mind mapping with time and practice in a variety of different contexts. Respondents also agreed that mind maps that are used for integrating sets of materials (as seen inFigure 3. Team developed integrated mind map – Mahatma Gandhi case ) tend to be more highly valued than mind maps used for purposes of description. Not everyone is enamored with the technique . Although in our pilot sample of 70 students there were a number of students with technical degrees, three from this subsample tend to prefer the top-to-bottom bullet outline approach to note taking and idea generation. We believe that the difficulty these students have with mind mapping rests more with our explication of the process than with
  17. 17. the logic and content of the concept itself. Mind mapping would be a very effective tool for these individuals to practice using since it allows one to break away into right brain or more creative thinking. Dee Hock, a founder of the Visa credit card and a member of Fortune magazine’s Business Hall of Fame, argues about creativity: The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a roompacked with archaic furniture. You must get the old furniture of what you know, think, and believe out before anything new can get in. Make an empty space in any corner of your mind, and creativity will instantly fill it (Waldrop, 1996). The following unsolicited quotes pertaining to mind mapping were received from four of our executive students as part of the lessons learned assignment in the leading organization change class: Student 1. The introduction to "mind mapping" was truly an introduction to me. I guess I consider myself a "visual" person, whereby I can remember where on the page of a reading a certain sentence or thought appeared. For me, that’s a first remembrance – better than the content of the message itself. Consequently, utilizing "mind mapping" to convey to the class (and to myself) the meaning of some of our readings was a revelation. It seems so strange when one learns something new such as a technique like “mind mapping” and the process is so simple to understand and to integrate into one’s study methods that you find yourself seeing things in “mind mapping” ways. I even started taking notes using a “mind mapping” technique. Then I noticed that Dr ________ used “mind mapping” as he filled the walls with lecture material. Then the culminating realization – my challenge of change is the use of “mind mapping” to learn things in a new way with both retention and understanding not always existent in the past. Student 2. The first tool I was exposed to in this class was mind mapping. I must admit, at first glance, I could not understand how it could be useful or exactly why I should try to apply this tool. As I reflect, I am disappointed that this was my first impression. I would like to think that one thing I got out of this program is open-mindedness and a more innovative approach to business, organizations, and problem solving. None the less, I was
  18. 18. skeptical. However, after seeing the mind maps that have been presented so far, I am really pleased with this tool. It is a great way to get all of our ideas on the table, make some sense and order of them and see the "big picture". When reading books or business documents, often times so much information is presented that it is difficult to organize and truly understand the total meaning and concept. This tool goes a long way to solve that problem. Additionally, a big problem my organization has when having meetings is that the groups are usually very large and a few players dominate. If this tool is used, everyone’s ideas are acknowledged and considered. One would think a tool would not be necessary, but my experience has been that without some discipline, there are people who do not “get their say”. Unfortunately for the organization, these could be the best learnings and ideas. Finally, for me personally, I plan to use this tool to prepare for presentations. Currently, I feel as if sometimes my delivery is not as smooth as it could be because my thoughts are not organized well. Student 3. The last thing I wanted to mention was that I was excited to learn about mind mapping. I had not heard of this, and I find it to be a fascinating exercise. I have never been fond of public speaking but I think that this type of mapping will make speaking in public and even chairing meetings more productive and less threatening. Student 4. Mind maps are a very effective means of note taking. They are highly personalized (when done properly) and can be used very effectively for presentations. I was fortunate to have the task of preparing a mind map for ______________. I was able to talk at length about an article I had read only twice and at times during the presentation I added to the article. I also tested the usefulness of mind maps by not looking at it for three days before the presentation. The result: I was happy with my presentation and now I have a useful tool to add to my repertoire. In addition, one of my many weaknesses before starting this program was fear of public speaking. I have overcome this challenge and the mind map will only increase my confidence. From other student comments and our own observations, it helps to be somewhat artistic when developing mind maps because the use of icons or symbols can be very powerful. Fortunately, mind mapping software exists which greatly facilitates the development of mind maps, including such packages as
  19. 19. Visio and Mind Man and Visi Map. Competently developed mind maps can also be created with Power Point. These packages significantly enhance the use of mind mapping for either public explanation or instructional purposes. Mind mapping and metaphorical thinking Another subtle but very useful outcome of mind mapping is that it introduces students to the efficacy of using metaphors in their thinking processes. By adding a visual and spatial dimension to generating and selecting information, mind maps show how metaphors promote ease of understanding when one element of experience is described in terms of another. Using mind maps leads to the realization that metaphors are a very useful means for interpreting, understanding, and communicating complex phenomena. (Refer to the Hartwick College teaching case Jesus and the Gospels.) Through development and use of mind maps, students are better able to conceptualize how one element of a business situation can be understood in terms of another through benchmarking; grasp the advantage to be gained by quickly achieving a comprehensive view of business situations; understand how illustrative language gives important identity to business situations; and realize that figurative thinking provides new ways to gain useful insights. (For an alternative view, Carr (1997) cautions about the potential perils of metaphor-based mindframing.) A powerful example of mind mapping lessons learned was experienced recently with a group of 40 executives. Following a tour of the Gettysburg battlefield on which the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War was fought, various executives were asked to reflect on what lessons they had learned from the tour that could be utilized in their businesses. Without exception everyone reported to the larger group in a mind mapping format. Summary and conclusions Mind mapping brings a renewed sense of enthusiasm to the classroom because it tends to increase one’s sense of competence in mastering the
  20. 20. assigned materials. In effect, mind mapping serves the purpose of enhancing one’s intrinsic motivation (i.e. those aspects of work that we do joyfully just for the sake of doing). Deming (1994) discusses this phenomenon when he says that people are motivated to produce high quality work when they take “pride and joy in the work”. Regardless of the reading load or complexity of the articles, mind mapping allows a user to grasp and depict the essence of each article on a single page. By analyzing a series of mind maps one is able to refine and integrate work across readings and articles into one coherent set of ideas, which are easily manageable and understood. The restriction of using just one page to capture the essence of an article or book chapter forces one to be efficient and thoughtful in choosing those concepts and ideas that are most important for understanding and for remembering. Perhaps mind mapping is best explained by Buzan and Buzan (1996). They stress that mind mapping works because it involves radiant thinking which is the natural and virtually automatic way in which human brains function. They state: Your brain’s thinking pattern may thus be seen as a gigantic, branching association machine (BAM) – a super bio computer with lines of thought radiating from a virtually infinite number of data nodes. This structure reflects the neuronal networks that make up the physical architecture of your brain. … From this gigantic information processing ability and learning capability derives the concept of radiant thinking of which the mind map is a manifestation…a mind map, which is the external expression of radiant thinking always radiates from a central image. Every word and image becomes in itself a subcentre of association, the whole proceeding in a potentially infinite chain of branching patterns away from or towards the common centre. Although the mind map is drawn on a two- dimensional page it represents a multi-dimensional reality, encompassing space, time and colour. Research by Sperry (1968), Ornstein (1977) and Zaidel (1983) … “would lead you to conclude that a note-taking and thought organization technique designed to satisfy the needs of the whole brain would have to include not only words, numbers, order, sequence, and lines, but also colour, images, dimensions, symbols, visual rhythms; in other words, mind maps” (Buzan, 1989).
  21. 21. The nature of the mind map is concerned with the function of the mind, and can be used in nearly every activity where thought, recall, planning or creativity is involved (Buzan, 1989). Our work is now focused on systematically examining the relationship of mind mapping to the reflection process required in developing lessons learned (Garvin, 1995). In addition we are examining an optimal way to combine mind mapping and storyboarding (Forsha, 1995) to significantly enhance learning, memory, and creativity. Our future research is designed to extend the use of mind mapping. To the extent that executive readers are not involved with this powerful cognitive technique, the following vignette may be provocative. We recently worked with the top management team from the US subsidiary of a large UK multinational. They conducted a strategy review utilizing mind mapping. They subsequently presented this strategy to their UK headquarters group in mind mapping format. Within that firm, mind mapping is now becoming a global activity. Be forewarned that mind mapping may become a part of your competitor’s competitive advantage. Figure 1. Uses for mind maps Figure 2. Mind map of Deming’s demons (1991) article Figure 3. Team developed integrated mind map – Mahatma Gandhi case Figure 1. Uses for mind maps
  22. 22. Figure 2. Mind map of Deming's demons (1991) article
  23. 23. Figure 3. Team developed integrated mind map - Mahatma Gandhi case
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