"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."
Showing posts with label Mind Mapping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mind Mapping. Show all posts

Monday, August 16, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: MIND MAPS FOR BUSINESS, by Chris Griffiths & Tony Buzan

From the standpoint of reading on the lines or among the lines, this 250+ page book looks visually appealing to me, because of the many colourful mind-maps – plus myriad interesting stories - coming from a broad spectrum of businesspeople across the globe.

Of all the stories, I reckon the one from Masanori Kanda stands out.

The book is generally well-structured, & also shows many business applications of mind-mapping from several luminaries as well as numerous diehards.

In this respect, I reckon kudos should go to Chris Griffiths for his entrepreneurial spirit in soliciting & collating all the relevant stuff from across the globe into the book.

However, reading between the lines as well as reading beyond the pages, I find a number of stuff that really irks me. I would even say that there are some fundamental flaws in the book.

I will run through all the irksome stuff with readers.

In the first place, at least from my perspective, mind-mapping is essentially a mind dump, so to speak, on paper, plus some fancy nodes & branches to denote radial bursts of information. In other words, it’s a great tool for capturing & organising ideas on the fly.

The real power in mind-mapping is actually the deep questioning process, as one constantly needs to ask “where does this lead to?” or “what else is there at this point?” or “what is the implication or consequence here?” at each node & branch.

I have noted this vital aspect is only perfunctorily addressed in the book, although for a handful of applications, e.g. sales, negotiations, the authors did go at some length, but not indepth.

The book gives a lot of static captures of information on their respective nodes or branches in the illustrated mind-maps, but did not go further. In fact, some of the mind maps in the book should have been rejected outright, as one needs a magnifying glass to read them.

For example, let’s take a look at the mind-map on page 119, pertaining to ‘Mind Mapping the Buzan Asia Project'. To me, it was frivolously drawn – a 12-year old would have done better than that. It shows no traces of “strategic thinking” at all, if that was what the author had intended to demonstrate to readers.

In any strategic thinking endeavour, it is the strategic questioning process that eventually leads to the crucial solutions.

The same problem exists in the mind-map on page 232.

Worst still, & to my chagrin, the mind-map on page 140 is a real laughing stock. It purports to illustrate the “8 Secrets of Leadership” from the mind-mapping guru. The contributing author from Down Under simply couldn’t differentiate a habitual routine like “daydream” or “associate” from a true leadership trait.

I reckon the basic problem lies in the fact that the author desperately wanted to fit her shallow understanding of leadership traits into the acronym, M-I-N-D-M-A-P.

Actually, as it stands, a larger over-arching problem exists with mind-mapping, where everything is required to fit into a centralised concept. That is to say, all ideas or observed facts must start - rigidly - at the centre.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in the real world, business or otherwise, since everything is connected to everything else.

I have one very important point to make though, to stand as a correction to what the contributing author/consultant from Down Under had talked about “Tony Buzan’s core work on leadership”.

It is well recognised that Tony Buzan’s apparent forte lies only in mind-mapping, speed reading & memory techniques, or “mental literacy" as he likes to call them collectively.

He might have given some official speeches or group presentations – from Dubai to Australia via Hongkong - where the term “leadership” had probably appeared.

Also, his name might have been listed on book titles to enhance the saleability of the books, like “The Brainsmart Leader” & “Grass Roots Leaders”. I would not be surprised that the real contributions in terms of thinking & writing actually came from the co-authors of the two books.

With due respect, I feel that the consultant from Down Under shouldn’t have trivialised the brilliant & pioneering work of leadership experts, like Jim Kouzes, Warren Bennis, Bill George, Noel Tichy, or even John Maxwell, by ranking the mind-mapping guru spuriously in the same league.

I would strongly recommend her - for her own leadership education - to read & digest ‘Conversations on Leadership: Wisdom from Global Management Gurus’, by researcher Lan Liu of Beijing University.

Nonetheless, the authors of ‘Mind Maps for Business’ have cleverly added in various proven strategic thinking & decision making models to dovetail with mind-mapping, e.g. Scenario Planning, PEST Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, SWOT Analysis, Balance Scorecard, BCG Matrix, Porter’s Value Chain, McKinsey 7-S Framework, The 4Ps, & Product Life Cycle.

Frankly, I feel that they didn’t do a good job, other than highlighting those processes. This segment of the book contains only the authors' suppositions, in both narrative forms & skeleton mind-maps.

More surprisingly, out of the supposedly 200+ million mind-mapping users in the world, they couldn’t bring about a single business case to illustrate each of them. That would have been great – for readers’ sake - if they had done so.

Worst still, the deep questioning process as I have emphasised earlier, was not incorporated at all.

Let me take an example from the book.

In the PEST Analysis, the authors have given readers some really good indicators of information to be gathered, but stop short of advising readers to go beyond the information gathering process. That is to say, information processing - to be more precise, insight generation - is missing. The latter step necessitates the fishing out of implications &/or consequences from each of those indicators… starting with first order… then, second order… finally, third order, if necessary.

The critical stage of insight generation, as I see it, holds the vital key to effective analysis, not just static captures of information on a node or branch.

Another example: SWOT Analysis.

It certainly looks good when you have gathered all the pertinent information on “Strengths”, “Weaknesses”, “Opportunities” & “Threats”.

The harsh reality is that the effectiveness & efficiency of SWOT Analysis lie in the next stage of intellectual work, i.e. to identify the implications &/or consequences of the gathered information, just like in the PEST Analysis I have highlighted earlier. [These are the “unintended consequences” which futurist/filmmaker/author Joel Arthur Barker talks about.]

In fact, I would encourage readers to ask pertinent & powerful questions, like “how can I amplify or build on “Strengths?”; “how can I eliminate or reduce “Weaknesses”?; “how can I maximise or leverage on “Opportunities”?; “how can I mitigate or contain “Threats?” to help generate valuable ideas.

I would even go one step further: “how can I combine “Strengths” & “Opportunities” to deal with “Threats”? &/or “How can I convert “Weaknesses” &/or “Threats” into “Opportunities”?

Like I said earlier, it is the deep questioning process that make mind-mapping powerful.

So, it seems that the authors just wanted to throw in some credibility to entice the business world by highlighting all those strategy models in their book.

I like to qualify what the authors (or the publisher?) have written on the back cover: “The Mind Map is the most effective thinking, organisational & productivity tool of our time…. [my addition] provided that the deep questioning process is put in place rigorously & vigorously.

I think it is also very bad taste on the part of the authors to belittle other visual tools, like concept mapping [on page 50].

As a matter of fact, concept mapping, which has a lot of empirical research to back it, is far more superior than mind–mapping, especially when it comes to reading & navigating through very complex texts, as in scientific subjects.

One last point: the authors keep on directing readers to their corporate website at every chapter, but I couldn’t get new information other than what’s already in the book.

Interestingly, on their corporate website, some of the user testimonials came from their collaborators as well as from their own licensed instructors - with vested interests of course. What a sham!

Judging from their corporate website, & from their constant exhortations via incessant email shots, it seems that the authors are more interested in getting readers to become their licensed instructors.

Imagine becoming a licensed instructor with only one single tool to work on. Think about it, if you have only a screwdriver in your toolbox, how does everything look to you?

Juxtaposing mind-mapping as a Swiss Army Knife is more of a misnomer. The latter is a truly multi-gadget, multi-function tool. Mind-mapping is not. Period.

So, in the end analysis, I reckon that the ‘Mind Maps for Business’ book has been written primarily as a marketing promotional tool for pushing their 'iMindMap' software to the world at large.

To be fair to the authors: if you are longing to read many interesting stories from around the globe with regard to varied mind-mapping applications, this book can readily serve as a valuable memento.

Beyond that, I don’t think readers will miss much.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I find it intriguing as well as amusing to read that the Buzan Organisation has claimed that

"... 250 million people already 'mindmap'..."

on their newly created ThinkBuzan website.

Is this a fact or pure hyperbole? Or, did they just pluck the figure from the sky or is it an audited figure?

Likewise, in the corporate website of the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), which offers professional programs to the corporate world as well as to the general public, I have noted that Tony Buzan has claimed that he is

"the owner of the world's highest Creativity IQ".

I like to know who is the ranking or rating authority.

Interestingly & also amusingly, Tony Buzan also claimed

"he has been consistently ranked as one of the top international speakers at all levels & to groups from 1-15,000..."

"... rated as the top international lecturer in 15 national & international management associations."

In the first instance, any young kid can tell you that 1 is definitely not a group.

More importantly, I like to know the respective ranking or rating authority in the two instances.

Did the relevant people in SIM bothered to conduct due diligence on the "accolades"?

Hopefully, the relevant people at SIM, being a premier management training institution, are not entrenched in colonial mentality. Layman calls it the 'Ang Moh Factor'.

['Ang Moh' is a widely accepted & used as a simple term to describe a Causasian. You will hear the term in local TV & movie productions, radio shows, & also read it in the magazines or books.

By the way, readers can pop into this AngryAngMo website for elaboration on the term. The website is run by a German expatriate.]

Monday, November 30, 2009

SYNVERGENT THINKING: Mind-Mapping, PhotoReading & Syntopicon Method

The foregoing hand-drawn mind-map by Dilip Mukerjea captures his major learning points from the 4-day 'PhotoReading' workshop, which he had attended during the mid-nineties. I was then the workshop organiser, under 'Optimum Performance Technologies'.

The hand-drawn mind-map as appended below, also by Dilip, captures his major thoughts from the syntopical reading of five books, as part of the application of 'PhotoReading' strategies.

For more information about the syntopicon method, as originally conceived by Mortimer Adler's in his classic, 'How to Read a Book', please refer to my earlier post entitled 'How to Become an Expert'.

[The term 'Synvergent Thinking' was originally coined by creativity expert Michael Gelb, as explained in his book, 'Thinking for a Change: Discovering the Power to Create, Communicate & Lead'. I have used it deliberately to describe the synergistic combination of disparate processes.

For more information about the 'PhotoReading' workshop in Singapore, please contact Ms Jean Giam of Xssion Training & Consultancy, at 65361612 (O)/96850020 (HP), or check out her corporate website.]

Monday, September 28, 2009


[continued from the Last Post.]

Dilip Mukerjea, writing in his book, 'Building BrainPower: Turning Grey Matter into Gold', offers the following Action Points for Your Mind-Mapping:

1) Make regular Mind Map notes, even if they are crafted solely in the mind.

2) Spot key words in lectures, notes, and books. Endeavour constantly to convert them into images.

3) Create a colour code for your notes and in your activities.

4) Develop 3D symbols and codes.

5) Use Mini Mind Maps on a regular basis.

6) Build your vocabulary and strive to understand meanings at diverse levels.

7) Mind Map all aspects of yourself. Create a Life Plan Mind Map and monitor your progress.

8) Review a book with a Mind Map. Then review several books and distill the contents onto One Mind Map.

9) Make a group Mind Map for a holiday, party, project, or subject.

10) test your memory with elaborate Mind Maps to see if your ability to retain vast amounts of information is being developed on a continuing basis.

[to be continued in the Next Post: Actions Points for Your Reading.]

Monday, August 24, 2009


Dilip has sent me an email about consultant Dr Scott Simmerman making an observation to the effect that Evelyn Wood (of Reading Dynamics) was the originator of 'mind-mapping'.

I wrote back to highlight that Dr Simmerman had probably echoed - if I recall correctly - what an earlier old-timer consultant/trainer Bob Pike had said - in writing - about Evelyn Wood, having invented 'mind-mapping'.

I also mentioned to Dilip about another school of thought:

Gabriele Rico, a professor of English & Creative Arts, invented 'clustering' (sometimes known as Rico Clusters), based on her doctoral dissertatuion at Stanford University during the mid-70's.

Personally, I have always subscribed to the fact that 'clustering' is the precursor to 'mind-mapping'.

It is quite possible that Evelyn Wood may have come up during the 50's with a rudimentary graphical outline, resembling some sort of "a radiating spoke with truncated lines" as a keyword-based approach to organise info after speed reading, but I can't verify it.

Nonetheless, I have seen many variations with fancy names like 'patterned notes', 'spidergrams', etc.

There are also ramblings from some quarters that Leonardo da vinci was the true progenitor, but I have yet to see any of his sketches or drawings with the effect.

Obviously all these pot shots - I believe probably sparked off by Bok Pike in the 80's - boil down to the fact that Americans just can't accept a Brit for the discovery or invention of 'mind-mapping'.

For me, it's fair to say - in fact I hold this view - that Tony Buzan had certainly taken a very brave stance by sticking his neck out to formalise what is now known to the world as 'mind-mapping', with some refined rules, starting in the seventies or so.

Frankly speaking, any further deliberation in this area is likely to end up as an academic exercise.

After all, the most important thing about it is what works & what doesn't.

Friday, April 24, 2009


[continue from the Last Post.]


If you have a third day available, you could take all eight Master Mind Maps, and interlink them into one Grand Master Mind Map!

Yes, everything does connect to everything else, no matter how different it all might seem. When you can do this trick, the world will see in you a magician of the mind!

Imagine, one Mind Map of eight books! You can do it!

A Note for School Students:

If you do this exercise with your school subjects, each group will be able to finish one year’s syllabus per subject in one week!

This is what I call A Learning Miracle!

How? Well, imagine that one of your subjects, say Geography, has 20 chapters in the text book.

Each person in a group of four can easily finish one chapter a day (I have seen kids do two chapters a day). This means four chapters per day between the four members of the group. Five days for 20 chapters!

Another two days to polish up and review. You will at worst have 20 sheets of paper each, that is, one Mind Map per chapter.

Of course, because you are smart, you will be able to consolidate the 20 sheets onto one LARGE sheet and voilahhhh! you’ve done it. This is rapid learning.

For lazy learning, all you need is to take two weeks instead of one; still top class! Go for it and claim your genius!

Note: It is a good idea to consult teachers and parents who can serve as ‘learning guides’.

[Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Although the proven power studying methodology as outlined by Dilip Mukerjea is apparently targetted at secondary school or junior college students, the entire systematic process is fully applicable to students in tertiary institutions as well as to entrepreneurs, managers & professionals, who are pursuing their MBAs, evening or otherwise.

In a nut shell, it's actually doing more with less. It's also leveraging on the synergistic brainpower of a group pursuing a common academic objective.

Just imagine: If a human brain contains the potential of a bazillion permutations of connections between synapses, two human brains, fully connected with a common objective, have a bazillion squared permutations. That's a lot more than double the brainpower!

In tactical terms, it is akin to the phenomenon of 'Knowledge Shared is Power Squared'. Please read my earlier post on this topic.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


[continue from the Last Post.]


By the end of the second day, you will have 8 Master Mind Maps, one for each of the 8books covered by the four members of the group.

At this stage each person should have a good knowledge of the eight books; copies of each Mind Map should be made for everyone. This is so that the material can be reviewed (remember that it takes about 6 reviews to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory).

Because each book will have been mapped, the time for each review should be only a few minutes per book, as opposed to having to read all the books again. That would be unbearable, wouldn’t it?

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This is a hand-crafted mind map by Dilip Mukerjea of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Process methodology as originally conceived by Alex Osborn & Sidney James.

[All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


[continue from the Last Post.]


It should now be 7:30 p.m. You are in the final session of the day. Each book now has four Mind Maps; the group crosses out the overlapping, duplicate information, and distills the essence onto one Master Mind Map per book.

As this is to be done for all four books, we are now back to four Mind Maps in total. At this stage, these Maps contain far more information than the original four Mind Maps, because they now have four perspectives as opposed to one at the start.

The time is about 9:00 p.m. Break for a light munch, relax, and straight to bed. You have an early start in the morning for the next four books, which you deal with in the same way as for the first four books.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


[continue from the Last Post.]

It is now 6:30 p.m. Each person should have his or her Mind Map of the book ready; this means that there are a total of four Mind Maps for the four books.

They sit around a table, and one person starts speaking about his or her book, using the Mind Map for reference.

The other members of the group are to listen and silently map what the speaker is saying. They do this in rotation, so that in the group of four, each person does three maps, and delivers one speech.

This means that each book now has four Mind Maps of the contents, giving a total of sixteen Maps for the four books.

The reason why the listeners map what has already been mapped by the speaker is that multiple perspectives are drawn out, providing a richness in interpreting the material.

Once all four members of the group have finished speaking, they should cross-check with one another as to what they have mapped.

Each person who originally mapped his or her book should oversee the other three maps done by the others; this should be done in rotation.

By articulating their thoughts, they learn better and remember more. Now everyone should take a 10-minute break. At this stage, each person in the group has a good idea about everyone else’s book.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Monday, April 20, 2009


[continue from the Last Post.]


You should have gone through your book by 5:30 p.m. At this stage, your Mind Map should also have been completed.

Take a 1-hour break for relaxation and supper. Everyone must be together but not to review their material.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Sunday, April 19, 2009


[continue from the Last Post.]


Make sure that you are Mind Mapping from the word go.

As you build your Mind Map in parallel to what is being read, you will find the material easier to recall. Don’t worry if the Map looks ‘untidy;’ it is your thinking that must be tidy!

Later on, when you have gone through the book, you can tidy up the Map; what is important is that you are learning all the way!


Take a 15-minute refreshment break at mid-morning, and then a 45-minute lunch break at mid-day. During these breaks, all four members of the group should meet and relax.

After lunch, everyone must return to their study zones, and carry on the process.

Regular 5-minute breaks are to be taken periodically, and a 15-minute break at mid-afternoon.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This is a hand-crafted mind map by Dilip Mukerjea of one of management guru Peter Drucker's superb classics? Do you know which one?

[All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]


[continue from the Last Post.]


Your Mind Map is the raw material for your speech about your book. Get an audience and tell them what you have excavated in the preceding thirty minutes.

Do not bury your face in the Mind Map; dip into it to refer to points and then look at your audience whilst delivering your speech. This is great practice for building fluency, memory, and confidence.

NOTE: You have been given thirty minutes for the Power Browsing exercise, plus whatever time you need to deliver your speech.

The first five steps will need less time as you and your brain get used to the process, and as your vocabulary and general knowledge grow. Remember, this is not reading as we have done earlier, but browsing.

Your objective is to get a feel for the book.

The Mind Map done in Step VI can be inserted in the book, for future reference, at which time you could power browse again, and keep adding to your Mind Map.

Later, when you have time to read your book in depth, your Mind Map will be of immense value as it will have prepared you for what is to come.

[Excerpted from 'Unleashing Genius with the World's Most Powerful Learning Systems', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Saturday, February 21, 2009


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

Frankly, I regret to point out that this book is just another 'how-to' Mind-Mapping book.

Essentially, it's no different from what Tony Buzan or Joyce Wycoff had written earlier. Except for one: The author has now fully incorporated the use of MindManager software to go with it.

Undoubtedly, MindManager can expedite the mind-mapping process. [With all the available third-party add-ons, MindManager is really a godsend!].

In some way, you can say reading this book is like reading any of Tony Buzan's Mind-Mapping books, syntopically with the 'MindManager for Dummies' book!

In reality, this book is not ground-breaking & does not offer any new insights into idea generation.

I must add, however, for a beginner into techno-savvy Mind-Mapping, this book is still great stuff.

I also want to compliment the author for listing out a series of 28 Mind-Mapping applications & suggested practice activities in the Idea Mapping Menu at the end pages!

For beginners, this is obviously a very good place to start.

My only adverse comment about mind-mapping as envisioned by Tony Buzan & his staunch followers is that every topical idea must seemingly take a radial approach & commence from the centre. This book doggedly follows the same approach.

Nancy Margulies, in her debut book, 'Mapping Innerspace', during the early eighties, took a radical departure from the Buzan routine. She created 'Mind-scaping' - your topical idea can start from anywhere you like - which I thought is really great!.

To some extent, 'idea-mapping' as the book title is quite a misnomer. It is obvious to me that the author has a somewhat narrow perspective, arising from her only chosen exposure to Buzan's Mind-Mapping routines & the MindManager software.

A truly 'idea-mapping' book should provide readers with a smorgasbord of options to go beyond traditional Mind-Mapping & just MindManager alone.

To illustrate a quick point, 'Mind-scaping' routines appear exceptionally wonderful with SmartDraw Pro (with its abundant templates & cliparts) or even Microsoft Visio.

'Concept mapping' routines, with the topical idea starting from the super-ordinate hierarchy as postulated by Joseph Novak, & 'causal loop diagramming' routines (from the field of systems thinking) are pieces of cake with 'Inspiration' software.

'Fish-bone diagramming' & 'flow-charting' (which are other forms of idea-mapping) with either 'Inspiration' or 'SmartDraw Pro' softwares are some good examples, too.

There are too numerous other software examples to cover in this review.

[For readers who are visual thinkers with a high propensity towards conceptual modeling, I would even suggest the 'AXON Idea Processor'. It has an impressive 3-D modeling capability, with a 500-level depth migration. Incidentally, it's also a Singaporean thoroughbred!]

In the course of my work, I have come across a lot of followers who are simply indoctrinated by the mindsets of Mind-Mapping as envisioned by Tony Buzan.

I would like to share with readers the true power & value of idea-mapping:

An idea-map is just a visual tool to jot down & organise ideas, & then use it to generate insights, irrespective of whether they are from reading a book or just stretching your brain for a change.

This is the initial response.

Once, this map is drawn up - with or without software -, it's just an exploded-view (map) of what you have just captured. Period! Most kids at primary school level can do it very well.

After the idea- map is done, you step back, take an helicopter view & reflect on it, by seeing the bigger & broader picture as well as from the systemic relationships between what has been written or drawn on the map.

You can then add to or may even subtract from the map. A lot of thinking (& reflection) on your part goes into this stage. Tactically, you also cross-pollinate from what you have read elsewhere as well as from your own &/or other peoples' experiences in connection with your reflections (or memory jogs!) from the idea map.

This is what I call the reflective response.

Lastly, comes the final response, with which you readily integrate (or internalise) what you have done in the initial & reflective responses, into what you are thinking &/or planning to do.

The resultant outcome is your assimilative response. Using another lingo, this is your strategic model.

This is where the actual value of an idea map is primarily located! Not in the beautiful map - with or without software - you have drawn in the first place!

(I also note that a lot of Buzan followers simply love to spend time & effort in beautifying their mind-maps! This is really crazy!)

I love to call this end-point process the 'water logic' of idea generation, to borrow a phrase from Edward de bono.

The true value or ROI of an idea-map is WHERE IT LEADS YOU TO.

Of course, having a beautifully drawn or crafted idea-map is good for the ego - looking good, but going nowhere!

Just as I have said earlier, this book has really great stuff for the beginner into techno-savvy Mind-Mapping. But, please don't just stop here because life as well as business issues are never centralised.

So, keep exploring! The world is full of possibilities!

To summarise my review, the author, regrettably with all her good intentions, did not focus on the true power & value of idea-mapping in this book.

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'.