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Mind Map Case Study: Mind Mapping to Find Order in Chaos

In this mind mapping case study we hear how mind maps came to Biggerplate member, Kaj Kruit's rescue, when information overload set in, and have since become an integral part of his working habits.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi there; my name is Kaj Kruit, I am from the Netherlands and I have been mindmapping for over 15 years. Currently I am working part-time as a Process Analyst at a small company. Next to that, I am working as a mind map trainer, live mind mapper (for example, at seminars and brainstorming sessions) and I am helping people to mindmap their career plans and apply for jobs.

How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

When I worked at IBM years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to MindMan, one of the first versions of Mindjet’s MindManager, if I remember correctly. After playing around with it for a bit, I could not really find a purpose for it at that moment and I forgot all about it. About two years later, I was hired as a project manager at another company. When I started drowning in spreadsheets, documents and unclear and contradictory project goals, somehow I rediscovered MindMan and finally things became clear. I discovered how to put chaos into order by just restructuring information and seeing the relations. I could not sleep for two nights, started reading books about mind mapping and that really was a life changer.

What do you perceive to be the greatest benefit of their use?

For me, the greatest benefit of the use of mind maps, is that it is not really limited to any specific topic. Any topic that needs a clear, structured and summarized overview, can be put into a mindmap. Whether it is for studying (if only I had known in high school how to save time and increase knowledge consumption more easily…), carreer planning, process mapping or creating your mind map resumé; it works for me! And when I create a mind map with an audience in mind, that works as well. It is a great way to communicate.

How do you use mapping in your day to day work?

At my current job, I use (digital) mind mapping to help my employer get the organisation more organised and as a consequence apply for the ISO 9001-2015 certificate. I use mind maps for practically everything before I export the content to a document for further processing. Process descriptions, working instructions, function profiles, stakeholder analysis, communication plans, improvement plans, project planning; there is just not much that can’t be mapped. Furthermore, I use mapping at seminars when there is a need for live structuring of the topics that are being discussed and where instant visualisation is required. Sometimes I also use mapping in strategic management sessions to structure the meetings and get everyone’s input quickly and orderly.

What do you think is the greatest barrier to wider adoption of mind mapping?

Mind mapping in my opinion might look too simple or childish for people who never got properly introduced to this way of structured thinking and visualisation. You have to take people along on the journey to look at breaking down complex information differently. Which is actually a bit surprising as well, because most people “think visually” already. People are usually comfortable in the way they have always worked, even if it is not optimal. Change is difficult. That is why it would be very wise to be able to start mapping at a young age. In some schools in the Netherlands, it is starting to develop because of some enthusiastic teachers. In those cases, mind maps are sometimes called “Woordkaarten”(“Wordmaps”). Well, what’s in a name? It’s a start!

Would you like to add anything else?

One of my personal goals is to spread the mind mapping technique to scholars & students and for studying in general. It also helps thinking about the future after graduation. It is all about mapping possibilities and ambitions. Also, the process of matching jobs, companies and applicants is another interesting topic in my opinion. This can also be achieved by using mindmaps and putting them next to each other for quick and thorough understanding. Mindmapping is not a solution for everything, but I have discovered for myself that it is applicable in many areas. And slowly but surely, you don’t have to draw the maps on the screen or on paper to visualize topics for yourself. You just start mapping in your mind!

Huge thanks to Kaj for sharing his experiences with us! Click here to learn more about Kaj and his work!

Why not tell us how you're using mind maps in a Biggerplate case study? Get in touch by commenting below, or on Twitter, to share your story with the mind mapping community!

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Barney is Community Manager at Biggerplate and shares user stories, mind mapping tips, and other news and updates from our global member community!
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