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OPM – Other People’s Mind maps

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@karimbrohi tweeted “aren’t mindmaps infinitely more useful to their creators than to others?”

Oh yes! … This chimes in so well with my thoughts.

I’ve used mind maps and concept maps for well over 30 years and wouldn’t be without them. If my thoughts are wavering, or I’m just starting a project, or learning a new topic, I  find them an invaluable technique for getting my thoughts in order, but rarely have I got value out of someone else’s.

For me, the principal value in mind and concept mapping is the process.  YMMV!
Mind maps can be very useful when someone publishes links to resources in a well-designed, logically-constructed example; There’s a MindManager map here that serves as an illustration.I can think of some exceptions though:

  • They can be useful to others in a group, when used as the focus of a discussion or problem-solving session, or better, when built during the discussion, or a presentation guide, provided the map maker presents, explains and uses the map structure to guide the presentation;
  • For beginners, looking at maps that more experienced users have made can help them on the path to making their own maps.

My old Twitter pal Dr. George Huba, (@DrHubaEvaluator follow him – he’s hot!)  chipped in “NOT if the person making them is using mind maps as a medium for conveying IDEAS not just pretty outline.”

But I find the layer of abstraction too great and the detail too little. I make the comparison with trying to understand what a human body is while looking at a wired-up pathology lab skeleton.

@karimbrohi says he routinely uses mindmaps but it’s the act of creation that leads to understanding.  He says he finds mindmaps of others hard to interpret and is not sure they’re best way to present collated information.

There are many mind map libraries (click the image to see a consolidated list at and for some, particularly new users, these may be useful, but the process, the act of making, is where most of the value is for me.

This is an important topic, so chip in with your ideas – please!  When the discussion is over, I’l consolidate it into an article on the mind mapping wiki.


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