What Scares You? 7 Steps to Defining the Problem

At this particular time of year your instinctive response to this question will probably be along the lines of ghosts and vampires, red rum, a sinister video tape, teenagers in hockey masks or malevolent entities named Toby…

However, I’d wager a guess that whilst the thought of these ghoulish figures does occasionally send involuntary shivers up your spine and prompt you to check in the wardrobe before going to bed, they aren’t what truly scares you.

For most of us the answers are far more rooted in everyday reality. What if I don’t pass that test? What if sales don’t pick up? What if I don’t get that promotion? Doubt that we can meet challenges head on and succeed. Well as every half-good horror film in the past 90 years has taught us, the only way to overcome a fear is to face it. Pull off the mask, confront the demon, find out everything about it until you know exactly how to destroy it.


Face your fear

Welcome to Defining the Problem. This is how you can shine a light on that terrifying unknown in the shadows. Knowledge is indeed power and the more you know about and understand what scares you, the less frightening it will be. You may in fact discover that what you thought you needed to overcome wasn’t actually what you should have been focusing on –much like when it turns out that the killer isn’t the creepy janitor, but the kooky best friend. The way to do this is to ‘Define the Problem’ and you can do this in 7 simple steps.

1)     Draw a Mind Map – Five Wives and One Husband

This is the template we will be using to get down the facts of the problem. Before analysing or trying to find the solution, you need to make sure you understand the problem itself.  This is no time for jumping to conclusions, but rather for laying out all the pieces of the puzzles objectively – think Sherlock Holmes, or Dr Gregory House.

2)     What?

Defining the Problem - What? branch

The first branch will consider the ‘What’ of the situation. What are the facts? You want to investigate the circumstances of the issue and probe details around it, without making any assumptions. This is the place to break down vague statements, like ‘sales are dropping’ into manageable, smaller chunks. What is/is not happening? Where is it happening? Who is it happening to? When is it happening? How?

For example, if sales have dropped in your business, you would want to include: by how much, when they started to drop – is it on specific days, in a particular region or a particular product line? Very importantly, you will also need to include what your goal is. If your problem is dropping sales, what are you aiming to boost them to?

3)      Why?

Here you want to identify the root cause of the problem – why has the problem occurred? If it is not possible to answer that question or if you are working with an opportunity rather than a problem, then why do you want to achieve the goal you have set yourself?

The key to this part of Defining the Problem, is invoking your inner 4 year old and ask ‘Why? Why? Why?’ in response to every answer you give. The broken record ‘Why?’ that so often infuriates parents around the world is in fact a very powerful tool for uncovering any holes in your logic. How often have you found yourself rolling your eyes and giving seemingly obvious answers, only to be asked ‘why?’ one more time and find yourself at a complete loss?

Defining the Problem - Why? branch

4)      Where?

Where can the problem be resolved? What facilities and people will you need around you? Where are these located? You want to identify the best location or environment for working through the problem or implementing a solution.

Defining the Problem - Where? branch

5)      Who?

Who can help you? Consider who would have the knowledge, influence or skills to aid you in overcoming the problem. These could be people you know, or you may have to search for outside expertise.

Defining the Problem - Who? branch

6)      When?

What is your deadline? When must your problem be overcome, or your goal reached? This will allow you to build a timeframe for finding and implementing your solution. If the problem requires an urgent remedy, such as our example below, perhaps you will need to find a short term fix whilst you work on a long term solution.

7)      How?

Defining the Problem - When & How? branches

This is a tricky one, but a very important question. How does the problem or challenge influence people or activities? What are the ripple effects? If you are receiving bad feedback on your company’s latest product, this could mean an increased workload for the Support Team, low morale in the Development Team who worked hard to create it, increased expenditure on refunds and a reallocation of Marketing time from proactive initiatives to damage control. Understanding what is affected by a situation gives you a fuller picture of what needs to be addressed and can highlight issues you hadn’t previously considered.


Halloween - Define the Problem map

Once you’ve gone through the map, adding all of the information at your disposal, you will have a complete picture of what you are dealing with. You have looked at the problem from all angles and should be able to see the weak points and the recurring themes. If you’ve been going in the wrong direction, this should become apparent.

Perhaps those bumps in the night aren’t coming from some malevolent spirit in your house, but actually the result of a sleepwalking daughter or draft from an open window – in which case, reading up on demons and exorcisms won’t help you find a solution. Similarly, if you’re getting bad feedback and reviews on your product or service, maybe it isn’t the product at fault but rather that you are marketing to the wrong audience…

Defining the Problem lets you step back from the problem and forces it to reveal itself. Think of it like a movie montage where the hero is training for the showdown, arming himself with everything he needs to defeat the bad guys. Yes, it may still be scary, but now you have everything you need to start generating solutions that will work. You don’t want to end up like those niave, doomed teenagers who think they’ve killed the serial killer, only for him come back to life behind them and…well…you know the rest.


Source – [TonyBuzan]

Mindmapping Today is About More Than a Visual Diagram

I’ve been using mindmapping software for over 12 years in Fortune 500 companies.  Over that time mindmapping software has evolved from a tool largely for representing information visually to a powerful information management tool.

When you see mindmaps in mindmap libraries like Biggerplate or Maps for That or even on this blog, there is an emphasis on how information is represented visually.  To be sure there is certainly power in representing information spatially and seeing relationships in ways that mirror how the brain works.  You only have to read any of Tony Buzan’sbooks to understand this.

However, today mindmapping is much more than visual representation.  Today, mindmapping is a powerful information management tool that can be dynamically leveraged for project management, strategic planning, data analysis, brainstorming sessions, and integration with productivity tools like Microsoft OutlookExcel, andSharePoint.

Chuck Frey, author of The Mindmapping Software Blog recently created avideo highlighting some of this broad functionality of mindmapping software.  In his video he highlights:

  • Using the topic notes feature
  • Linking websites to topics
  • Attaching documents to topics
  • Using the project management functionality with prioritization and progress icons
  • Linking sub-maps to a dashboard mindmap
  • Using RSS feeds within a mindmap
  • Using database queries in a mindmap
  • Embedding Microsoft Excel ranges in a mindmap
  • Illustrating Microsoft Outlook integration
  • Using SharePoint integration within MindManager

(Click mindmap to enlarge)

I use all of this mindmapping functionality on a daily basis to manage information and achieve business results.  I can say from personal experience that it is this functionality, which extends beyond the visual diagram, that represents the true power of mindmapping.

As more people begin to understand what mindmapping software can do today, mindmapping will become the ultimate tool for business and education.

So now you can take all those mindmaps you’ve downloaded from Biggerplate or Maps for That and integrate this additional functionality to increase your productivity.

Source – [MindMapBlog]

3 ways to get more done with less time & less stress

Getting organised with Mind Maps

The past two decades have seen meteoric advances in the way we communicate and work; with emails, Facebook, SMS, Twitter, Skype, Ping, blogs, feeds and a vast array of other indispensable forms of ‘connecting’ and absorbing information.

With such resources at our disposal productivity should be soaring, shouldn’t it? But whilst the world is now at your fingertips, you are, unfortunately, equally within reach of the world.


Using Mind Maps can help you to cut out that background noise and is proven to improve productivity by 20% – that means you can gain an extra working day every week!

Here are 3 ways to get started in your productivity overhaul using MindMaps…

1. Plan Your Day

This practice will take you just 5 minutes at the start of the day, and can end up saving you a lot of time and hassle. Begin with your Central Idea as today and create a main branch for each of the main areas you need to focus on. From these branches, draw smaller, child branches with the specific tasks you need to complete and information such as names, deadlines and the time segments that you will spend on that particular task today.

Top Tip: You can re-order the map by time so it becomes a schedule for the day, allowing you to track your progress. Take a look at 4 Steps to Time Control – Get a Grip On Your Workload for an in depth guide to planning your time.

2. Keep an eye on the big picture

Why stop with just daily planning? Create a Mind Map for the week, the month or the year to ensure that you are seeing the ‘big picture’ and can track projects over time. Make sure you put this on a wall where you can see it easily. With a map for the year that shows what you want to achieve, you have an instant, one-page visual reminder of what you’re aiming for. Whenever you are becoming overwhelmed by everyday tasks, look back at this map to focus on what is most important and help you prioritise.

Business plan map

Top Tip: Save your Map as a template so you can use it quickly and conveniently the next time you need to plan.

3. Consolidate Information

MindMap allows you to group tasks or ideas in a limitless radiating structure, so you can have a clear, organised picture of what needs to be done. By using keywords and the simple hierarchy of a Mind Map, it is possible to capture the plans for an entire year on just one page. Plus, you can add new ideas all the time without having to try and find a place to squeeze them in. With MindMap you will never run out of space, so you can finally wave goodbye to all of those pesky Post-it notes covering your desk.

Planner Mind Map

Top Tip: Link everything to do with each task or project to your Mind Map, be it spreadsheets, meeting agendas, proposals, web pages or audio files – just drag and drop them onto the branches in MindMap. Then you can quickly access all of relevant information with just one click.


Source – [ThinkBuzan]


6 Ways to Activate Your Child’s Mind in the Summer Holidays

The summer holidays have just begun, and every parent is wondering how to fill the time. The kids are already getting bored, it’s raining outside and every toy has been played with. Forget dusting off that old scrabble board; instead why not get the kids to give Mind Mapping a go, with our free iMindMap Basic software.

There aren’t many things out there that are completely free AND fun and entertaining but iMindMap Basic is. More than that, it will fire up your child’s grey matter and bring out their inner creativity. You can download it straight to your desktop from our website and get started in minutes. Easy to use and the perfect platform to get the kids thinking.

So onto what to do with iMindMap Basic once you have downloaded it…here are our 6 top thinking tips for getting creative this summer:

1.    Adventure
Unlock your child’s imagination by getting them to describe exciting adventures. iMindMap is the perfect space for brainstorming ideas and structuring stories, and is used by published authors and primary school children alike to construct literary gems.  Whether the adventure is real or imaginary, if the focus is on princesses or aliens, iMindMap Basic can help develop your child’s creative writing skills.

2.    Perfect Holiday
Every child imagines that perfect holiday. Whether it’s full of theme park rides, wild animals or outdoors fun, we’re sure they have always longed for a certain adventure. Get your child to focus on their senses (see, hear, smell, taste and touch) so that these can guide them through their imaginary trip.

3.    Role Models
Who is your child’s role model? A celebrity, a historic figure or perhaps a family member. Get them to choose someone they look up to, or aspire to be like. Then help them research every detail about their chosen role model, whether they like pizza, are terrified of spiders, any hobbies or talents, and why they look up to them. Fingers crossed they will stumble across something they have in common.

4.    When I Grow Up I Want To Be . . . 
When we were little we all had dreams for the future, from becoming a ballerina to a fire-fighter and even the occasional doctor or accountant. Find out what your child’s future plans are; get them thinking about why they have decided on that specific career, and also how they could make it possible.

5.    Keep in Touch
The last thing you want is for your child to lose contact with their friends or other family members. So during the long break get them to keep their friends up to date. They can create a Mind Map explaining what they’ve been getting up to, including snapshots of their favourite days out and places they’ve been, then share it with their friends, grandparents or relatives.  They can either print the map out or export as an image file to email directly to everyone. Encourage people to reply by creating their own Mind Maps, and hopefully they will keep on sharing throughout the whole summer.

6.    Favourite Sports Team
Most children will have a favourite sports team or athlete and it’s a great passion to encourage. Get your child to research everything, from their history to what they are up to right now, their main achievements and greatest falls, and don’t forget to explain why they choose this particular team or person. They can even track their own sporting progress alongside their chosen sports’ personality or team.  It could be teams such as Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys, or focused on an individual such as Usain Bolt or Anna Kournikova.

So What’s Next?

All you need to do is download the iMindMap Basic software -  it is completely free of charge and gives you unlimited use forever.

Get Other Parents, Children and Families Involved!

Why not share this with others – let’s get the world Mind Mapping!  There aren’t many free ways to keep children busy and entertained, so make the lives of the people you know easier and pass on this good news.  Under ‘Enjoyed this Post’ below, click on the ‘Share this post’ button and get everyone mind mapping for free!