When creating a mind map, you start with the major categories. When I was consulting for a client, I realized that they had no written plan or procedures for their basic processes in their business. So as I came in to help them, I wanted to understand what the major areas were that I would need to focus in or give input to. I came up with Customer Care for Current Clients, Marketing and Sales, Administration, and Technical. This became the core structure of my mind map.
I then started building in the details of the areas that would have to be managed in each of the four major sections. You can see that I had listed 18 separate categories that we would need to see policies and procedures built, but also results in. That part of the map looked like this:
On a mind map, you will see small bubbles at the end of another long bubble or “node”. This simply means that you can click on that node and there are more nodes behind it. For example, Websites could have several nodes behind it, each of which could expand many times. The point is, you can get as detailed as you need to be for whatever stage of planning you are in.
Here’s a mind map we’ll be using in our Internet Marketing 12 course (though the actual mind map may change in structure as the course develops). Some people dream of having an Internet business but don’t realize the actual amount of work that is required to be successful online when you compete against the whole world.
Having a mind map allows you to get a clear understanding of all the details of a plan. When I look at the mind map above, I am reminded to be cautious about starting my own Internet business. The reason is: it’s a lot of work! So it forces me to step back and plan more carefully. I ask questions to myself like: Who’s going to do all this stuff? (Understand that behind each of the nodes above is another set of more detailed areas that require thought, planning and action.)
So now I start to think: If I’m the only one, then either I’ll have a very shallow business, or I’ll be awake about 60 hours a day trying to get it all done! This mind map and the Internet Marketing course prevent a lot of foolishness that is prevalent on the Internet today.
You can also use mind maps to plan what you will “say” in any given sales situation. You can create a mind map of scripts so you can go into your own company as an intrapreneur or use it to analyze another company and you will very easily find many areas of opportunity for breakthrough. Without the mind map, you may be left wondering what to say next and you will miss many of the opportunities that are before you but are slightly veiled.
Mind maps can be used to plan what should be said in Customer Service situations. If you have an angry customer call in with a complaint, do you really want someone in your business bumbling through what they’re trying to communicate?
Or do you want your person to be clear, concise and professional? Mind maps allow even the slower thinkers or new employees to appear brilliant.
Planning Tool #3: Mind Maps
You will also be required to enter the slightly more technical world of process maps, I recommend FreeMind as the best place to start your mind-mapping because it’s FREE.
You can download a free copy of FreeMind at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download. You can also get a free trial at www.Mindomo.com if Freemind doesn't work for you. Here’s an example of what a mind map might look like:
You can see that there’s a central idea around which we can identify major points that we’ll want to think about. Then in each major point, there are several sub-points that will become areas that need to be thought of or further developed. From these sub-points, we can even drill down further to answer the Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? questions.
Mind maps are great for “discovering” all the details of a project and I use them extensively. Often we think we’ve got every detail covered, but the mind map helps us to use a different part of our brain to understand the process. As we develop the plan, our minds begin to “see” what we are missing and all the possibilities that might occur. I highly recommend them.