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Brainstorming and Group Mind Mapping or Solving Problems

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    Mind mapping is great for brainstorming during meetings. Though each person can create a unique mind map, it is possible for groups to mind map together. In group mind mapping, each person is allowed to post sub-ideas to the key ideas of the group – no one is vetoed. In the end, this allows more associations to be formed about a central key idea. The agenda could be developed in the form of a mind map, while action ideas can be listed down separately – this immediately gives you a roster of things to do and minutes of the meeting. Leaders of organizations now realize that idea generation and management may be crucial for the survival of the group in today’s society.

    Mind maps have been found to be applicable for brainstorming and visualizing ideas, as well as creating a structure for such concepts so they can be classified. The lines radiating out from a central key idea help to focus on the semantic relationship of the ideas (indicating the links between meanings of the words or symbols used.) Brainstorming is encouraged because the connections between ideas are displayed in a radial non-linear fashion as a diagram – this can be applied to all organizational tasks. A ‘tree branch’ of lines drawn in a segment of the paper indicates that the ideas presented are closely related to one another. The key advantage of a mind map is that memory recall becomes easier because the semantic connection between bits and pieces of information is graphically displayed in a uniform manner.

    Group Mind Mapping

    Similar to brainstorming, group mind mapping is often done during training workshops and seminars. It can be applied for strategic analysis, also known by the acronym S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.) It may be used in marketing for creating a marketing plan and product analysis; or generating creative ideas for promotional purposes; or combining analysis about markets and competitors. When determining an organization’s performance, group mind mapping can help in finding areas to cut costs or increase revenues, re-engineering a process or envisioning areas of improvement (whether this is at the level of departments, subsidiaries or entire organizations). Groups will also find it easier to come up with solutions to setbacks, particularly if they are quite complex problems.

    The obvious advantage of group mind mapping is like that of collaborative writing – the group gets to harness the brain power of more than one person. This is why some computer software developers have come up with mind mapping software that accommodates the input of more than one user. They realize that, more often than not, employees of any kind of organization are going to have to put their heads together and work together on a project. Some computerized mind maps can be created individually, then shared with other people on the same computer network. Others allow different people to work together on the same mind map file.

    Problem Resolution

    Mind mapping is also useful for problem resolution since the readers are able to improve their understanding of the scope, background and nature of the problem. Problems can be resolved when participants are able to look closely at what facts, environments, assumptions and opinions contribute to its root causes. They may then try to come up with ways to reach an ideal solution which is effective, ecological and good in the long-term.

    But even if you don’t have mind mapping software conveniently installed on your PC, group mind mapping can still be done. You could try using a very large whiteboard installed in your office conference room and pens of different colors. Or, if your office does not have a whiteboard handy, you could buy very large-sized blank manila paper and tape the corners to a wall. You could also use small post-it notes to attach ideas to the huge group mind map you are creating. These post-it notes are quite versatile; if you change your mind about where the idea on the post-it should go, you can easily remove and stick it somewhere else on the mind map.

    Collaborative writing is another interesting use of mind mapping to help joint authors in their writing.

    Collaborative writing has its advantages and disadvantages. The obvious advantage is that when more than one mind is at work on an article, more than one person’s skills are brought to the project. Each person has his own unique point of view, experiences, and educational background, so this makes for a rich brew to dip into. However, the disadvantage of having more than one author for a book or article is that sparks can fly between the authors. Each person may believe he has ideas and a style of writing that is superior to that of the other/s. Writing, after all, is a highly personal journey into one’s mind – one person may resent the intrusiveness of having to collaborate with another person. Mind mapping can help in this regard, provided that each participant respects and trusts his partner or partners.

    How can mind mapping help in a collaborative writing project? Simply put, each author can create an individual mind map to brainstorm for ideas. Afterwards, the partners can put their individual ideas together on a larger, more comprehensive mind map. There should be room for each author to voice his opinions so that this bigger mind map can encompass all their ideas. Since more ideas are produced this way (as opposed to having just one author brainstorming on his own), the project promises to be richer and more fulfilling. There are fewer disputes when the bigger mind map is finally viewed since each participant is able to see how another person’s ideas will complement his own. The final product will thus encompass everyone’s point of view without losing focus.

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