Mind-mapping – like a Magic Eye picture for a jumble of ideas
I’ve used mind-maps for myself for years when writing reports, planning holidays, events and major projects – and during Covid-19 lockdown. I have now used it with a client for the first time to conduct an online session. It was terrific – definitely my go to tool for a fact finder, and worked so well to get to the heart of the issue.
I cannot recommend this enough as way to capture everything that may or not be relevant to just get the ideas down, follow all the swerves in the conversation and, most importantly, leave nothing out! You can park random ideas, dead ends and gradually move them around until at some point they tend to emerge as a pattern, a little like those 3D reveal pictures.
The mindmap generated acted as the minutes for the call, and gave my client plenty of food for thought, and an easy way to see the strands for further consideration before our next session.
For me, this initial mindmap creates a checklist for when I’ve made more concrete plans – checking that all the original ideas, concerns, risks, stakeholders have been incorporated into the final version, and not strayed from the original objective of whatever that first conversation was about. It’s been a lifesaver so many times.
In my opinion, simple software helps far more than any books or theories – just pick one and start playing. (Mindjet my current favourite, though it’s not cheap after the trial). The important features are the ability to move whole chunks of ideas into groups, or park outliers, which you can then drag into place as some form of hierarchy comes to mind.
Tackle the elephant in the room
The elephant in the room is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss) crops up everywhere (thank you Wikipedia).
I personally love an elephant in the room with a new team as you can engage so many problem solving approaches to really help people to view problems from a new perspective.
Denial (it’ll be allright), blame (it’s not our problem), avoidance (we haven’t got time) are all examples of barriers to effectiveness, and are very common human responses to change and uncertainty. Working together boldly to chip away at the elephant in the room creates a real sense of trust and enthusiasm once the first wave of “can’t do it” passes. We’ve succesfully conquered 2 elephants by a mixture of 6 hats, asking Why, following every “we can’t” statement with an “UNLESS?” question and giving the most creative, random suggestions proper reflection with no shooting. Helping to contribute to a sense of “we did that impossible thing” is priceless, and that’s why I would encourage you to dig deep and find out where your own elephants are.