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The Elements of Mapping

I’ve been working at Mindjet now for just over 4 and half years. As you can probably imagine, I have seen thousands of maps both generated internally and (from my tenure managing Support) from customers. In that time I have noticed that one power of MindManager is that you are free to create a map structured any way you see fit. That’s fine for individual use, but when it comes to sharing maps with others, there is a danger that your map cannot be understood by the extended audience. For that reason I wanted to open a discussion on how to create good maps.

Everyone probably has their own idea on how to create good maps. While we were all taught in school how to write coherently (you may think while reading this that I was sick that day), there are very few people who have been taught how to properly use the power of MindManager. I do not profess to have written the book on MindManager, but I would like to get the discussion started with a few ideas:

MECE standards for “Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive” and was developed by McKinsey as a framework for solving problems. I also think that it can be applied to mapping. The idea is that the topics should not overlap each other in their subject matter and all of the topics together should cover the topic completely. Easy for me to say, I know.

“Keep it Simple Stupid” Each topic should be treated as concise thought, not a complete sentence or a series of sentences. To me, that’s not what MindManager is for. The idea is to convey more information with a few words and use the map structure to show meaning.

1 Hand Rule
God put 5 digits on each hand to make counting to 5 easy for our arithmetically destitute ancestors and we got used to it. In the same vein, I recommend having no more than 5 topics at any one level. After 5 topics, the overall subject of the topics becomes muddled. Use the hierarchy.

Link It
Do not be afraid to create sub-maps or to link to existing maps. Create new maps for new ideas and link to the older maps. This will help keep your maps focused.

That’s enough from me. What are the elements of your mapping style?