Vision Mind Mapping Philippe Packu

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Regarding our last post about « Mind Mapping vision » we are really pleased to share Philippe Packu´s answers. Philippe is a professional in information technologies and very interested in the software industry. He’s fascinated by the world of mind mapping and what you can achieve with it, he’s also a ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor. Finally Philippe is the author of the very famous blog Draw me an idea!

What is your own definition of Mind Mapping and how do you use it currently?

It’s very interesting to see how the concept of Mind Mapping is defined according to the domain of expertise or the source of inspiration. The simplest way to define it is: the action of creating or updating a mind map (an iconographic and informative document built from a radial diagram where each item is linked directly or indirectly to a center item).

Personally, I consider the Mind Mapping as a technique for visualizing and representing the knowledge (first mentally and then graphically), using a mind map, which supports people in their thinking processes. My philosophy is clearly focused on improving people efficiency using the Mind Mapping technique and expanding their skills in several categories of cognitive processes: attention, structuration, memorization, decision making, learning and collaboration. Indeed, as opposed to mind maps that are used for managing and presenting huge amount of related information, I’m using mind maps as a support for achieving, in a given context, a personal or collaborative task which is not exclusively limited to the structuration and presentation of complex information.

I need to insist on the fact that the Mind Mapping is a complementary discipline you can learn but it does not replace other techniques you need to master in order to be efficient and successful in your operational tasks. I disagree with people saying that once you know the Mind Mapping, you can summarize a text, master a presentation, manage a project, facilitate a brainstorming … That’s the best way to discourage novices. A lot of training attendees think that they will acquire a lot of new skills with Mind Mapping but at the end, they only know how to draw mind maps with a couple of practical examples. Each discipline requires mastering some techniques. For example, if you do not have in-depth or big picture analysis skills, Mind Mapping will never help you to summarize a text. Worse, a lot of people who know how to draw a mind map are very frustrated not to be able to apply it in other disciplines. Someone who does not know what project management means and requires will never properly manage a project thanks to Mind Mapping. On the other hand, if you are conscious of your potential in a certain domain, it is worthwhile to analyze how mind mapping can help you being more efficient. And it certainly will.  

How do you think that its practice will evolve in the future in medium term (5 years) and long term (10 years)?

It depends again how we look at the Mind Mapping. From my perspective, it’s a thinking process related to a human activity. Therefore, I do not see much change in the technique in the coming years. It’s a very clear method for representing thoughts by applying basic rules in given contexts. With some practice, you see immediate returns on investment. It might evolve (and I hope it will) with new discoveries about the brain and the way it works (how we generate, associate and recall information).

If we look at Mind Mapping from a pure information management point of view, I think there will be a lot of changes in the coming years. Several companies consider mind maps to be the best way of structuring and accessing huge amount of data. I do not really understand why mind map diagrams would be so appropriate for structuring and giving meanings to the information. In terms of semantic and multi-dimensional relationships, I consider mind maps very poor, especially those with a lot of unstructured texts and no visuals. Additionally, it’s painful to navigate and read big mind maps. In that domain, companies will have to find ways to generate richer content and better interfaces to navigate into it otherwise it will remain a marginal business.

The other category of mind map based information management tools are business suites. You can see more and more applications that use mind maps to organize and manage different kinds of business operations (projects, reports, presentations, document or link libraries …). Again, the Mind Mapping approach is probably a better way of managing and associating information in comparison to previous generation of tools. But for the same reason I evoked earlier, the mind map is not the most powerful and organic way to look at all the information or the assets in a company. It’s limited in terms of semantic and relationships. Tools of that kind may become very complicated and heavy to use, which can be considered to be counter-productive or useless. There is a market for office applications managed with mind maps but I’m not sure if current vendors will survive it if they continue to focus exclusively on the mind map as a diagram that ease the association of resources and the navigation. New vendors will arrive very soon on the market with much more advanced technology for managing enterprise assets.   

According to you, how the software editors of Mind Mapping should evolve in the future? 

Whenever you need to think in order to achieve a task, you consume a certain amount of energy. But usually, you also need tools and techniques in order to operate efficiently and achieve meaningful goals, which also require additional effort. Because we always have a limited amount of energy available to spend on a given task, we will maximize our efficiency if we minimize the effort required by the support.

In today Mind Mapping processes, an important part of the energy is spent for managing the constraints imposed by the tools (the size of a sheet of paper, the need of color pencils, the time the software takes to open or save the work, the number of steps to find and upload an image,…) and by the technique (sketch a draw, select efficient keywords, use colors appropriately, find back and update a piece of information, …). The success of future Mind Mapping software’s resides in their ability to remove a maximum of those constraints for the end-users so that they can focus more on their thinking process. Software or online applications that are developed in a traditional way are forcing users to adapt to their interface. New applications will have to anticipate user’s needs any time and predict most probable action, according to the context and previous operations. Have a look how Google tools evolve and you will understand what I mean. Future tools will also have to better integrate new technologies such as voice, eye or hand controls. We are entering a new era where we are shifting from writing to visualizing as a mean of communication. Because the mean of communication is changing, the way of interacting with software must change as well. Editors who will not adapt will disappear and new ones will arrive.

Signos Team thanks you for your participation.