Mind Mapping – Will It Ever Leave the Early Adoption Stage?

When something new comes along that challenges, the way things have always been, there is usually a backlash from the that’s the way we have always done it crowd.

Often this kills many new ideas or at the very least delays the introduction of what might be a viable new way of doing things.

Certainly people embrace new ideas at different rates.

In the back of my mind I recalled there was something called a Technology Adoption Lifecycle that categorised people depending on when they embraced a new technology.

A quick check of the Lazy Man’s Oracle (Wikipedia!) revealed that a 1950s study carried out on farmers and their hybrid seed corn buying patterns identified distinct groups of people in the pace of the adoption of new ideas.

Here are the categories it identified:

Innovators – a small group of risk-orientated people who try out new ideas the earliest

Early Adopters – A slightly larger group of people who try a new idea probably after hearing about it from an Innovator.

Early Majority – conservative in their approach but still open to new ideas and will embrace a new concept once certain it is already widely accepted.

Late Majority - fairly conservative people who tend to be a little older and slightly more resistant to new concepts and take up new ideas after the fuss has passed.

Laggards - Very conservative and maybe stuck in their ways and might only incorporate an innovation in their lives after years of hearing – What are you still doing it like that for�

By definition, the largest of these groups are the Early and Late Majority which is when an idea (or technology) has pretty much achieved public recognition and acceptance.

Now if we look at this cycle and apply it to Mind Mapping, depending on who you talk to will depend on where they think it is in the cycle.

Personally I think we are in the Early Adoption stage and there are several reasons I think this:

1. When talking about Mind Mapping in the business environment on average about 10% of my audiences claim to use it, about 45-55% of them are aware of Mind Mapping and the rest have never even heard of it.

2. When probing a little deeper, even those that use it don’t fully understand its power or they only partially use it.

3. The media still treat the concept as a ” new” or “unusual” thing.

Mind Mapping and Leonardo da Vinci

At the weekend, the New York Times ran an article in their business section called “Da Vinci ” Retrofitted for the Modern Age.

[http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/business/01unbox.html?_r=1&ref=business&oref=slogin]

It focussed on the work of Michael Gelb and his passion about the workings of great minds like Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci. Gelb wrote a great book a couple of years ago called “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci”

Now Michael Gelb worked closely with Tony Buzan in the early part of their careers and is a huge fan and advocate of Mind Mapping.

The New York Times article listed the 7 da Vinci traits identified by Gelb in his book which included “Connessione, or connection, the habit of weaving together multiple disciplines around a single idea”.

The article goes on to say:

“That last principle has been popularized by the educational consultant Tony Buzan as – mind mapping, or nonlinear, radial diagramming of words and ideas around a main concept. Mr. Buzan studied the notebooks of both da Vinci and Edison while developing mind mapping, and it’s a tool that Mr. Gelb often uses with his corporate clients.”

I think the key point in this article that still puts Mind Mapping in the Early adoption stage is the need to explain it as a “nonlinear, radial diagramming of words and ideas around a main concept “.

We would waste time in exploring why such a powerful thinking tool is not in the Majority stage of adoption so we should focus on how we can move it there.

If you want to know why I think we should get it to that stage then check out my Mind Mapping Benefits video but this article is not about why, but about how.

I think we are close to shifting to the early majority stage but are not quite there yet. The increase in its use in education is helping as professional people are seeing their kids benefit from Mind Maps and want to know more. However, even in education Mind Mapping is still not completely understood as a thinking process. It is still seen as a useful tool for revision.

The New York Times article also reflects the commonly held business belief that it is a diagramming tool that was useful in college for exams.

For Mind Mapping to shift to the Majority adoption stage, one thing has to happen:

Education and Business need to recognise that the Mind Map (the noun) is not the answer – Mind Mapping (the verb) is.

There has never been a greater need for people (and I include children in that label) to concentrate more, get more focussed, be more creative, make connections across a wide range of disciplines, remember more for much longer and deal with a huge amount of often conflicting facts and data from a variety of different sources an media.

If you think a pretty picture with key words and colour that is a “nonlinear, radial diagramming of words and ideas around a main concept ” is the answer then you are WRONG.

However, if you follow the guidelines of effective Mind Mapping and apply the tool to your thinking task, it forces you to analyse, organise, categorise, summarise, seek out relationships and dependencies and integrate your new thoughts with what you already know.

The application of the process itself is indeed the sort of thinking that people need to apply in today’s world to survive and thrive. And by applying it there is an increase in concentration and focus, greater levels of understanding, increased recall and retention and the stimulation of greater levels of creativity.

It is far, far more than just a useful aid to revision.

So let’s get more people applying Thinking2.0 by using Mind Mapping

Let me know what you think….

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