About a month ago, I asked the community of bloggers who cover mind mapping software to give me their perspectives on how this type of productivity tool can help you to recession-proof your career. My thought was that mind mapping software has the potential to help you to add more value to your employer – and therefore make you less likely to be laid off when their employer downsizes staff to weather a recession.
I didn’t get many responses, and so I just put this idea on the back burner. Apparently Vic Gee from the Mind Mapping Blog felt as strongly about this subject as I did, because he contacted me several times, asking if I ever did anything with his submission. So he went ahead and published it on his website, which you can read here or in the compilation of tips below.
Vic’s persistence has caused me to rethink my original decision. So here are my thoughts on utilizing mind mapping software to recession-proof one’s career:
Who gets laid off in a recession? To answer this question, let’s consider a ship as a metaphor for this scenario. On an ocean-faring vessel, what gets thrown overboard when seas get rough? Everything that's non-essential to the survival of the ship. So it is with corporations today. Recessions are a prime time for companies to trim "dead wood" - people whose skills are no longer current - because they can do so with relative impunity. One of the big areas where you can improve your skills is in creative problem solving. And a key tool for doing that is mind mapping.
Be an opportunity finder. A downturn is a prime time to identify new opportunities – cost-saving opportunities, new product line extensions, business processes that can be simplified and creative new business models - where others only see liabilities. Mind maps can help you to conduct this research, explore gray areas and "white space" opportunities. In particular, I recommend that you spend time using your software to brainstorm creative ways to generate revenues or cut costs – two areas that top management always appreciate help with in a recession.
Polish your reputation as a can-do problem solver. Understand your organization's short- and long-term strategic goals, and position yourself to meet those goals and provide creative solutions. As one executive once remarked (I don’t recall the source): "Be amazing, be remarkable, be brilliant, be the very best at what you do."
Alberto Martinez, Mind Mapping Everywhere Blog
By increasing my productivity, then I will be a recession-proof worker. If we define productivity as results divided by investment, then visual mapping techniques do help to reduce the amount of time needed to get results in many different ways.
One key question is how do visual mapping skills contribute to my productivity? Here are some of the ways that visual mapping helps me:
Gathering information data, and connecting them to provide new, different and fresher ideas. Because mind mapping software provides new methods to connect information, thoughts, notes and so on, it can help you to discover new paths to get the best solutions to your goals in a time-saving way. Many times, getting the best solution comes down to having the best information and the best tools to extract meaning from it.
Visual mapping techniques also provide extraordinary tools to improve your organization (defining tasks, deadlines and priorities). They provide this information in a ‘brain-friendly’ representation, so you get your whole brain working together to help you to solve problems and generate ideas. This can help you on your path to productivity.
Finally, visual mapping tools help to stimulate pre-analysis of information with a clear strategic vision. For applications like strategic planning and business process mapping, mind mapping software can help you to determine a faster path to reach your goals, as well as help you to uncover ways to reduce your risks and maximize your profits.
Vic Gee, The Mind Mapping Blog
Surviving in a shrinking economy and nervous times is most often about being better than the next guy or gal. But it's not enough just to be better, if you are a cog in the machine, or even a bigger wheel, you need the higher levels to know that you're better. The fastest and most memorable way to get that message across is visually.
My advice to the real survivors is:
- Don't just know what you know, show what you know.
- Don't just know what you're planning, show what you're planning.
- Don't just know what you're doing, show what you're doing.
A well-organized mind map or series of maps can show all that quickly, and doesn't depend on the boss sitting down to read a report. As a consultant I've consistently found that the higher the level of a decision-maker is, the more often they want a diagram or some other visual encapsulation of a complex problem. They rarely want detail.
Once you have hooked senior management's interest visually, using mind mapping software to go to the next stage shows that it's not just a party trick. Showing that a mind map that kicked off a presentation is linked directly to data that tracks, for example, progress or costs can be truly impressive. One of the "dashboard" add-ins for popular mind mapping software can help you pull that one off and keep it up to date automatically.
Or a project's main mind map, or series of maps, can be linked directly to files of information. Direct, clickable links on the maps allow project team members to find information they need quickly, just where they'd expect it to be, because they've worked with the same mind maps as they were developed.
Finally, out of the many possibilities, here's another chance for you to shine. If you work in an environment where there are too many meetings, mind maps can keep a meeting focused, record next actions and decisions made as you go alone, as well as making the meetings more effective, and shorter, as a result.
You'll be remembered and appreciated for that!