Mind Mapping For Research and Development

Amongst the many pleasures of my chosen vocation are the opportunities to meet new and interesting people, visit different parts of the world and of course help people grow and develop by introducing them to the powerful concepts that have helped shape my life.

Last week I had the privilege of sharing the benefits of Mind Mapping with staff from the R&D arm of a huge multinational company at the Sheraton Hotel at Frankfurt airport.

Many of my family and friends often express mild bouts of jealousy when I share with them the places I visit, especially when they are abroad (the places, not my family and friends J ).

Of course the life of a professional speaker does sound rather glamorous when you reel off the foreign trips – Frankfurt, Zurich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt again, Luxembourg, Amsterdam again, Dublin, Kuwait, Kuwait again.


But balance that out against the domestic schedule – Taunton, Winchester, York, Bristol, Taunton again, Manchester, Bath, Didcot, Bath again, Lincoln, Warwick, London, London again, London once more – and the reality takes on a slightly different hue.

Coupled with a 2 hour wait on the stand at Heathrow after we had boarded the British Airways flight because of Frankfurt airport being closed then you start to see that the life of a Speaker on the road (in the air/on the sea) isn’t all exotic locations and audience adulation.

We knew that there was a problem when the BA cabin crew started bringing round water and orange juice before we had left the terminal gate. However, we knew it was really serious when the cashew nuts were passed around.

Still, thanks to the BA staff and a fresh breeze to blow the Frankfurt thunderstorms away we finally got to Frankfurt.

My client’s organisation was having its annual 3 day conference and had shipped in over 400 of its staff from all over Europe and parts of the US. Part of the process outside of the plenary sessions was a set of personal development seminars which included mine on using and benefitting from Mind Mapping.

I ran two 75 minute sessions with a different group each time with some extremely bright and very well educated people. I was told that because of the nature of their work (R&D) the baseline qualification for the group was a PhD.

Now there are two broad responses a group like that can exhibit when you are sharing with them the benefits and applications of Mind Mapping – one broadly positive (falling into the mainstream response to exposure to this remarkable thinking tool) and the other rather negative or at best indifferent.

I have worked with PhDs before, ironically in a related field. However those were youngsters, straight out of university with little experience of life beyond the test tube they had been examining for 5 years. Academically arrogant, they were somewhat resistant to what appeared to be an excuse for doodling as an alternative (and supposedly better) thinking strategy to the one that had propelled them to such glorious learned heights.

Rather than experiencing an education that left them open minded and creative, they seemed to have narrowed their focus and become cynical and resistant to new ideas – a great testimony to the upper echelons of our esteemed education system! Needless to say that event was hard work but a very interesting insight into the finely developed (or should I say limited) academic mind.

But the groups I worked with last week were completely different. More mature and worldly-wise with experience of a working environment and not just a lecture theatre and student bar, these researchers were open to new ideas and willing to embrace anything that would enhance the work they already do.

I only had 75 minutes with each group and in that time you can put across the basics of how to begin Mind Mapping and have them do their first Mind Map. We also took the opportunity to explore how to apply the tool in their professional lives.

I shall be following up with the group and give them some pointers on how they can begin to apply Mind Mapping in what they do professionally.

However I think the biggest realisation that they came to was that Mind Mapping is more than just a pretty picture, but that it is a thinking SYSTEM that harnesses much more of the brain and produces greater results all round.

Not only can they apply the tool to their research activities, but they can also use it in the day to day running of their lives in tasks ranging from running meetings, delivering presentations, organising their time, presenting their ideas and solving problems.

Here are just some of the comments I received about the sessions:

"I really enjoyed the role-play exercise when we had to remind about two people from their Mind Mapping. This really demonstrated the benefits of using that tool. I enjoyed the energy you have during the training to make it interesting. I look forward to receiving more about how to use it for taking notes during meetings ." Cyril J.

" I liked the way you showed us how much things we can remember with having a Mind Map and not a whole paragraph with only words – the importance of the images :-) ) Thank you for your enthusiasm !" Ursula B M

"I liked the fact that in a very short time period, using the Mind Map improved significantly my recollection of the facts. I really was very much impressed and interested. " Karen O

"In a short period of time, the introduction of the Mind Mapping ‘technique’ was really well done in a lively way" Thierry B

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