Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Exit Interviews

In our latest 'Mind Maps in Action' post, we spoke to mind map expert Pascal Bernardon about the use of mind maps to extract important tacit knowledge from retiring or departing employees within an organisation, and (perhaps more importantly) how to develop a clear plan to transfer this knowledge to other team members with the organisation! (You can visit Pascal's blog here>)

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your working background, and how you first started using mind maps?
I have been working in Knowledge Management since 2006; for me it was the next step after 29 years in IT. I began to work with conceptual maps using C-Maps in 2006. It was a great doiscover for me to draw knowldge about business communities. Then quickly i discover an another way to snapshot knowlledge by using mindmapping, in this case i began with Mind Manager. But i always use this 2 types of mapping, the first one to understand a complex topic and the second one to explain and transfer knowledge of a part of this complex topic.

Q. How have you been using mind maps in your work over the last few years?
Every day I use Mindmapping to organize
  • my job
    • Schedules
    • Action plan
    • Answer to RFP
    • Meetings
    • animate brainstorming
    • follow Conference
    • notes about book i have read
    • Lessons learned in MOOC
    • and so one and force ,
  • my life
    • to plan my next holidays
    • notes about book i have read
    • lessons learned in MOOC
    • and so one and force ,

Here some examples:
Notes taken during a conference

Capture d’écran 2014-03-14 à 17.19.29.png
My understanding about a book i have read

Capture d’écran 2014-03-14 à 17.21.27.png
more maps on biggerplate

Q. When we met in Paris, we discussed the use of mind maps to extract tacit knowledge from employees within organisations. Can you give us an overview of what you have experienced in this area?
Yes it is a service i designed in 2006 in response to Babyboom retirements. But now i also provide this service for every change in job position within organizations.
The process begins with an interview of the manager of the employee or the team concerned. This interview help me to design the scope of the further exit interviews.
Next, I conduct 3 interviews per employee during 4 or 6 weeks in the course of their own schedules. Between each interview, I begin to modelize tacit knowledge extracted from interviews and then I ask the employee to validate the tacit knowledge I discovered.
At the end of the interviews I can propose a Knowledge tranfer plan. In this plan i have always determined appropriate criteria to ensure knowledge transfers.Here is the map i use to drive interviews

Capture d’écran 2014-03-14 à 08.26.04.png

Q. Clearly this could be an invaluable process to support exit interviews, when there is a risk of important knowledge leaving the business. How does your interview and mind map approach help to extract the key information from people before they leave the business?

As you can see above i use this template to drive stortytelling interviews. Storytelling is very useful method to extract tacit knowledge, Employees, Managers like to speak about their experiences. After, you have to analyse semantic topic used during theses interviews to catch tacit knowledge and to ask employee or manager to explain it in an explicit way.
For example, in my last mission in a cast iron foundry, the expert tells me how he develops a specific techniquie of casting for keel. This strategic knowledge has never been explained to other co-workers in detail within his company; Storytelling helped me to discover it in various experiences that the expert was telling me about.

Here you’ll find the process map for exit interview (sorry in french, i have to translate it soon).Capture d’écran 2014-03-14 à 10.49.05.png

Q. In your opinion and experience, what is the potential long-term impact for an organisation if they adopt this approach?
One of the most important benefits to use mind-mapping are :
  • To be forced to think about terminology used before sharing a map
  • To provide summary (keywords) and details at the same place
  • To foster knowledge transfer
  • To organize simply your ideas
  • To plan actions for a team
  • To organize meeting and brainstorming easily
  • To summarize a book reading
When a team use mind-mapping every day, something change in behaviors and in relationships. Each member wants to bring the essential and useful stuff to share.
I named this point of view the 3U method :
  1. Useful
  2. Usable
  3. Used

Q. Do you have any tips for managers who want to try and implement this process?
Yes, take one of your notes or long email you send to your team and try to mind-map it and to exchange with your team members, you’ll see quickly that’s your map fosters collaboration and understanding more than your note or email…
And to choose the software, i propose you this point of view :
  • Mindmanager if you work in Ingeneer and technical culture
  • Imindmap if you work with creative teams (marketing, communication, Universities, etc)
  • Mindmeister if you work on web platform only

Thanks to Pascal for sharing this fantastic use case with us. You can connect with Pascal on Twitter (in French or English) at
Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Jamie Nast at Biggerplate Unplugged: San Francisco

Renowned mind mapping expert and author Jamie Nast got attendees thinking and talking in San Francisco as she kicked off the speaker sessions with a great interactive exercise to demonstrate the associative nature of our brains, and how mind maps are the only tool that really reflects and caters for this!
A great exercise for anyone delivering mind map training workshops or consultancy, it's well worth taking a look!
> View Jamie's maps on Biggerplate
> Follow Jamie on Twitter
> Visit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Liam Hughes at Biggerplate Unplugged: San Francisco

Watch Biggerplate Founder Liam Hughes speaking about mind mapping as the missing link at Biggerplate Unplugged mind map conference last week in San Francisco!

Liam explains the 'why' behind, and how this is now driving the pursuit of clear contextual evidence and case studies for mind mapping, in order to create a real body of evidence!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Expedition Planning

Our "Mind Maps in Action" series aims to share some of the experiences and learning of mappers from around the world, and today we're talking with our good friend, and Biggerplate Partner Hans Terhurne of Creamatics, who has been using mind maps to plan an exciting and challenging expedition that he's attempting this year with his daughter!

Q. Hans, can you tell us something about this challenge you are taking on? 

The 4D Challenge is a four day competition held throughout the Netherlands organized every two years by the Land Rover Club Holland. This demanding contest has two central themes: the Land Rover and our physical ability. It includes the following components: 
- Survival run: cross-country running with challenging obstacles en route
- Canoeing/kayaking: competitors need to be strong swimmers
- Mountain biking: don't let the lack of mountains in Holland make you think it will be easy!
- Land Rover trials: tricky technical challenges will test your (co)driving skills

Every day we will face demanding challenges designed to test your perseverance and after four days a team be announced as the winner!

Q. It sounds tough, but fun, what prompted you to try and complete this challenge?!
My daughter asked me a few months ago if I would have something against it to spend 4 days with her in a somehow active way. Actually I’m not a big sportsman so I had a lot against it … The main reason to say yes is that it’s impossible to say no to such a question coming from my daughter. I see it as a big present when a daughter is leaving her own family for four days to spend these days with me, her father!

Q. How have you been using mind maps in relation to help you in your planning and preparation?
Actually it was the first thing we did: mapping all the aspects of this Challenge and decide what should be done and who should do what. There is a paper map on the wall at my daughters place and one at mine. Every time we meet there is a little brainstorm around the branches of that map and every now and then it’s actualized on the computer. Interesting thing is that visitors seeing the map come with some good ideas too!

>View the planning mind map on Biggerplate here
Q. So after all these years of mapping, you are still finding new uses, and useful applications for maps?
Although I know it for many years I still enjoy it to see that mind mapping is such a helpful tool. Very often I’m using software to structure my first thoughts. On the moment creativity is needed I make a printout (A1-format) to activate my creative brain part a bit more. Again in a very short time we had the same picture in mind, the same understanding of all the consequences and the commitment to go for it. Project management can be fun!

We wish Hans and Maaret lots of luck in taking on this challenge - we're sure they will be very successful! You can tweet support for Hans at
Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Signos creates Annual Report 2014 Infographic

It's been a fast and exciting start to the year, with preparations for Biggerplate Unplugged in full flight (just 2 weeks to go), a huge development project getting underway, and the highly successful publication of our Annual Mind Map Report 2014, which has already been downloaded over 700 times!
But we're not the only ones making progress - our friends and partners at Signos have launched 2014 with a number of exciting projects, including a conference on Visual Management in Switzerland, and several training workshops to be held in Paris! They even had time to put together a fantastic infographic to represent the key findings from our Annual Report!

You can view the full infographic on the Signos website by clicking here or the image below!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shelley Hayduk (TheBrain) completes San Francisco conference line-up!

With less than 30 days to go until the mind map community gathers in San Francisco for Biggerplate Unplugged, we're delighted to confirm the final speaker in our already jam-packed, star-studded, and hugely exciting conference line-up! > View details

The wonderful Shelley Hayduk, from TheBrain Technologies will be coming to share her expertise and experience, in a presentation entitled "No Limits Mind Mapping" - if that doesn't grab your attention - nothing will! Shelley is Vice President of TheBrain Technologies and contributing author to Shelley is the final addition to what is quite simply, an unmissable line-up of speakers and sessions, and we are delighted to welcome her to the event!

Information, business relationships and our ideas are complex. Rarely do they fit into one category or branch. Shelley will focus on how you can create large scale, no limits mind map for individual knowledge expression, as well as organizational learning and responsiveness. She will draw on applications from Cardiac Surgery, Department of Defense, and business planning as well individual knowledge bases.

While exploring the definition of  “mind map” she will discuss what the next generation of mind mapping should look like,  what applications are suited for different visualization tools, and how traditional mind mapping and dynamic visualization work together. Shelley will also be calling upon the experience of TheBrain user Jerry Michalski, who will be sharing his own experience, and indeed, his own brain with the group! In fact, you can check out now to get a glimpse of what's coming!

So... the agenda is now complete, and available to view in full, by visiting the Biggerplate Unplugged San Francisco event page here >>

With less than 30 days to go, an unmissable line-up of speakers and sessions, and limited space filling fast, don't you think it's time to get on and secure your spot for the North American leg of the Biggerplate Unplugged conference series?!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: eBook Publishing

We're always excited to hear how people around the world are using mind maps to help them in their work and/or personal life, and this year, we plan to share more of these stories than ever before! 

Our "Mind Maps in Action" series aims to share some of the experiences and learning of mappers from around the world, and we start today with the story of Jim Lauria, who is a long-term mapper, and water technology professional based in the USA! Jim has recently published an excellent new ebook called "How to get your money back from big companies", and used mind mapping extensively in all stages of the project! Here's his story...

What is your professional background?
I am a senior executive in the water technology field with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from Manhattan College. While living in Hong Kong, I did a trains, planes and automobiles tour of China visiting breweries, refineries and water treatment plants to justify a $45 million investment in Chinese mining operations. In 2004, I provided peer review for the World Health Organization's publication on drinking water treatment, making me a Who's Who of WHO.

I just released my latest book “How to Get Your Money Back From Big Companies,” a guide to getting restitution for botched customer service and defective products. I live in California with my wife, Laurie Lauria who brings my life love, laughter and alliteration.

When and how did you first start using mind maps?
I started using Mindjet in 1999 when my fiancĂ©e Laurie (yes, that’s right, she’s now my wife Laurie Lauria) showed me an article about mind mapping software she found in an airline magazine. She had seen me hand drawing mind maps that I used to enhance my creativity for problem solving. She recognized that since I was both an engineer and a writer, a software tool that would allow me to use both my left brain and right brain would be quite beneficial.

What is the focus of the new book?
As an experienced business executive, I give the average consumer secrets on how to get your money back for botched customer service and defective products, starting with ten sure-fire tips to help you get what you deserve. I publish the actual (sometimes hilarious) complaint letters I wrote that returned thousands of dollars to me over just the last five years from a satellite TV provider, a consumer products company, a hotel chain and two airlines. I give practical suggestions on exactly how to go about this process, and as an added bonus, I include a simple fill-in-the-blank template to help you easily write your own letters.

What sparked this idea for you?
My wife was the catalyst behind the book observing how I was successful in resolving complaints with big companies and wanting me to help the underdog consumer vs. large corporations. I wanted to show how no one is powerless to get restitution for poor customer experiences.

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath and in it he states that “the powerful are not as powerful as they seem – nor the weak as weak.” In this regard, I hope my ideas can give the average person the confidence to act as their own consumer advocate.

Finally, as a senior executive I wanted to present business lessons for the organizations themselves: market intelligence, market research, and building a customer-oriented culture in the first place.

What role did mind mapping play in helping you with the early stages of the book, when the idea was still embryonic?
I used mind mapping in the early stages of the book to define the reasons why I wanted to publish this eBook. This clarified the objectives and how I would measure the success of the book. Mind mapping also allowed me to organize my thoughts, experiences and reference materials to write the book quickly and easily. I mapped out the various letters I had written, reviewed each letter, critiqued them and saw how I refined each subsequent letter to achieve resolution as efficiently and effectively as possible.

How did mind mapping help you in planning for the book?
I used mind mapping as a way to research the best route to market – determining publishing, distribution and retail partners. I mapped targeted marketing messages to the various communities – my “tribes” as Seth Godin would say – that might have an interest in my book. And then I identified the platforms I would use to get the word out about my book – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Mindjet (Maps For That) - and of course Biggerplate!

Finally I created a unique free giveaway by making available 10 free tips in the form of a mind map on my website to aid the general public in recovering their hard-earned money. I also posted the map on Biggerplate:

What next?
Based on the success of this book and requests from a number of readers, I am planning on publishing my next eBook, Mapping Your Way to eBook Publishing. As part of this process, Faizel Mohidin has requested I submit an article for his Using Mind Maps magazine summarizing my experience using mind mapping to publish eBooks.

In addition I continue to use mind mapping to write on water management issues with several articles and books scheduled to be published in 2014.  

We would like to thank Jim for sharing his learning and experience with us, and wish him all the best with this book, and his future plans! Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter!