"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Thursday, February 19, 2009


[Extracted & adapted from the 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog.]

Undoubtedly, Tony Buzan should be credited for starting the ball rolling for Mind-Mapping in the late seventies/early eighties. He certainly took a brave stance.

Whether he originated the idea is still debatable, because I strongly believe that the clustering technique (as originally envisaged by Gabrielle Rico in her debut book, 'Writing the Natural Way', in the early eighties) is the precursor to the Mind-Mapping technique.

I still owned the original releases of two books written by Tony Buzan, in which he introduced Mind-Mapping during those days:

- 'Make the Most of Your Mind';

- 'Use Both Sides of Your Brain';

Going back into these two books & comparing them with the current book under review, I am very surprised to note that there are not much differences from the the intellectual standpoint.

Despite the fact that more than three decades had already transpired, there are no new enhancements for readers, except, may be readers now get to see Mind-Maps in colour.

Surprisingly, Tony Buzan is still pursuing the dogmatic approach of putting every issue from a centralised position, & viewing all the connected issues in a radially-outward perspective.

Beyond this singular aspect, he doesn't have any new ideas to share with readers. Sad to say, Tony Buzan is clearly running out of steam. All his new & subsequent books still follow doggedly the same old formula.

In fact, most of his new books are often rehashed &/or mildly expanded from the foregoing two books.

Many of his disciples who have written similar books even follow the master's footsteps, with the exception of Dilip Mukerjea, who has in recent years leaped away to create Splash Maps, Lifescapes (in the form of a Question Mark & Journalist's Questions) & adaptations of Storyboarding, & Story Grid.

I am not saying Mind-Mapping is obsolete. It still works, & has its merits, but it has severe limitations.

In today's chaotic business world, not every issue can be centralised in perspective.

Even in the educational arena, Mind-Mapping has its fair share of problems in application.

Let me share with readers a true case in Singapore, as reported in the 'Straits Times', a local newspaper, a few years ago.

According to the then-principal of Raffles Girls' School, a top-ranked secondary school, the school invested heavily in getting students to learn & apply Mind-Mapping in their studies. Every teacher & student was very excited. Every student was proud of her colourful Mind-Maps.

However, when the final exams came, all the girls just abandoned Mind-Mapping & went back to the old habit of note-making. To them, Mind-Mapping seemed more like a luxury, & to their chagrin, they didn't work as expected.

My own analysis is this:

You can only apply Mind-Mapping to some subjects in the academic curriculum, but not all.

For example, Fish-Bone Diagramming & Time Lines (or Transitive-Order Diagramming, an expanded variation) would be more effective for history lessons.

A Story Grid would serve English Literature more effectively.

Concept Maps & Vee-Diagramming would be more ideal for navigating science subjects.

Coming back to the current book under review, I wish to say this: Mind-Mapping alone is not going to help you solve all your problems, whether gathering/organising information or generating ideas. The Mind-Maps just look good on paper in most instances.

You need a smorgasbord of visual tools!

Just imagine you only have a screw driver in your tool-box!

For readers who are keen to explore beyond traditional Mind-Mapping, they should take a look at the following resources:

- 'Thinking Visually: Business Applications of Fourteen Core Diagrams', by Malcolm Craig;

- 'Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes', by David Straker;

- 'The Power of 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems', by Alex Lowly & Phil Hood;

- 'Visible Thinking: Unlocking Causal Mapping for Practical Business Results', by John Bryson;

- 'Beyond Words', by Milli Sonneman;

- 'The Marketer's Visual Toolkit', by Terry Richey;

In the realm of strategic planning, I reckon 'Reinventing Communication: A Guide to Using Visual Language for Planning' by Larry Raymond would be an excellent resource.

Even Nancy Margulies' Mind-scapes as envisaged in her 'Mapping InnerSpace' &/or 'Visual Thinking: Tools for Mapping Ideas' can help you deliberately move away from Tony Buzan's standard routines. In other words, you can start your idea from anywhere you like.

For readers who just want a quick & broad understanding of visual thinking perspectives, I would recommend Robert Horn's 'Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century'.

No comments: