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3 Problems with Mind maps

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Over the last month of using mind maps I have come to realize that they have some restrictions. I will list three of them which I feel are important, but will love to hear more

Linked to the creator(s)
Mind maps are excellent aids in a number of situations - brainstorming, problem solving, activity tracking, note taking etc etc. But one major problem with mind maps is that they are very closely tied to the creator(s) of the mind map. It is only the creator(s) who can extract the maximum value from the map that he(they) have created. Reason for this is very simple in that the source of the map is the thoughts on the mind(s) of the creator(s).

Even if you look at the suggested guidelines for mind mapping by Tony Buzan (as below), it becomes rather obvious that mind maps are more a work of 'creativity' than completely rule based.

  1. Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours
  2. Use images, symbols, codes and dimensions throughout your Mind Map
  3. Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters
  4. Each word/image must be alone and sitting on its own line
  5. The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  6. Make the lines the same length as the word/image
  7. Use colours – your own code – throughout the Mind Map
  8. Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping
  9. Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map
  10. Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches
Sharing them is difficult
As a project manager, just imaging a situation where as a request for project status you get back a mind map. For the creator all the information is there on the map but as a person outside this map creation process, it becomes extremely difficult for you to get any valuable information.

Most of the uses of mind maps and even the sample ones I found on the web are tuned in on the idea the the creator and the reader are usually the same. If the objective of the map is also that it will be shared, then the creator(s) need to put in special attention to this aspect when creating the map.

I am not too sure about the features supported by all the mind mapping software but it should be easy enough to get a summary view / presentation view of a map. If this can be optimized I personally think it will go a long way in making the use of mind maps more acceptable.

No standard
If you look back at the past, one of the key drivers for faster acceptance and adoption is the presence of a standard. The 'creative' nature of mindmaps automatically rules out the possibility of getting a standard form of creation of mind maps.

Don't know if this is feasible, but I think there should be some rules which are just agreed upon which will push up the usage of mind maps.


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