At the end of a speech I did recently for some trainee public sector accountants, I was approached by a member of the audience who had a specific question about how to use Mind Mapping for processes and sequences.
Now I had just spent an hour with over 100 public sector professionals who were studying for their accountancy qualification in their spare time.
I had been asked to come to their annual conference to give them advice about how to study more effectively and the title of my speech was called "Read Faster, Remember More".
It is a topic I really enjoy presenting because it can have such a tremendous impact especially with adults who are taking further professional qualifications.
Now the jewel in the crown of effective study techniques is, in my humble opinion, Mind Mapping and of course I shared this amazing tool with them.
I am always amazed at how many people still have no heard of this tool let alone never seen one and Ranjit who came to speak to me at the end of my sessions was equally amazed he had never encountered Mind Mapping before.
His question was quite simple:
"Michael – I can really see the power of Mind Mapping in helping me to learn but how do I use it for processes because much of my accountancy training is about step by step sequences?
Now this is a really interesting question because there is an assumption that processes and sequences are only linear and logical (meaning one step after another) and Mind Mapping is only radial and creative and that the two are therefore incompatible.
Now before I go any further I think it is very important to always try and use the right tool for the job in hand and as a former Systems Engineer I appreciate the value of process diagrams to represent systems.
So in my mind a really complex process probably is best represented by a structured and sequenced process diagram.
However what happens when you need to add explanatory information, alternatives and options into the mix?
Well then you start to need additional sheets to your process diagram and all of a sudden the significant advantage of seeing something on a single piece of paper is lost.
So can you use Mind Mapping for capturing processes and sequences?
Well in its simplest form, a process is merely a sequence of steps, one followed by another.
As I said earlier, more complex processes might be better displayed with a process diagram, but Mind Mapping can still be used.
All that needs to be clear on the map are:
- Each discrete stage of the process
- The order of each stage in relation to the others
The simplest way of identifying each stage of the process is to have one main branch per stage.
The easiest way of identifying the order is to start Stage 1 (the first main branch) at the 1 O’clock position on the map and then add subsequent branches (stages) clockwise.
Of course the beauty of Mind Mapping is that the branches need not run in that sequence – you could have them in random positions around the map as long as you had some way of identifying their position in the sequence.
You can do this by either notating them alphabetically or numerically or maybe even use a continuous arrow that weaves its way through the relevant branches in turn.
The example Mind Map below demonstrates what I mean.
So if you have any examples of how you have used Mind Mapping for processes or sequences, then do let me know in the comments below.