Recently, I was asked by Chuck Frey of Innovation Tools and the Mind Mapping Software Weblog to Provide him with answers to questions about what Mappers deal with. I went a little overboard with my answer, so what better place to park it than my blog! Yeah, Yeah... I think you may find some of them helpful, so without further ado...
What common mistakes should people avoid when creating Software-produced mind maps?
1. Go with Jared Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' Approach: Horizontal expansion is better than vertical. I recommend heavy use of the hierarchical structure to accomplish this. A key reason is that it's easier to draw lines between bodies of information when they are horizontally next to each other, as opposed to vertically separate as in a vertical-shaped map. Download the Strategic Management Core Template here.
2. Avoid the mistake of NOT using icons. They give you a database-like functionality in your maps. Further, decide on your icon-set for the map upfront, as on-the-fly can produce haphazard results.
3. Avoid creating a map for brushing your teeth. Okay seriously, you can have too many worthless maps. They breed like rabbits: Watch out!
4. Avoid creating one map with everything in it and no more. Seriously, I applaud the desire to rule your maps, but this just ends being a giant, unmanageable empire.
5. Avoid not using color in maps. You'll be more engaged when it looks pleasing to the eye. Just watch out for using too much color. As usual, less is more.
6. Avoid not using images in maps. The topic text will engage the left-brain, so why not get the right brain going for free with topic images. In a way, that's what mapping is: A way to get the whole brain engaged. There's great ROI implied here, because most employers get employees' creativity or logic in whichever area employees are stronger. Mapping should get both sides of the brain without a change in compensation plans, so in a way its double the brainpower for your money.
7. Avoid not opening at least one map a day. Relentlessness is key if you want mapping to become a habit and not just a fad.
8. Avoid the conventional wisdom that mapping is simply about inspiration and creativity. It is also about taking ground, holding it and expanding it.
9. Avoid reinventing the wheel: Look online and in books for best practices and habits.
10. Avoid not working with Kyle McFarlin and Visual Strategist. (Shameless, absolutely shameless.)
Stay tuned for my answer to Chuck's second question.