Just another Idea Mapping Success Blogs weblog

Legally Speaking

One of the benefits of Idea Mapping and Mind Mapping that initially attracted me almost 20 years ago was its ability to simplify complicated issues. I’ve just started a new Idea Map that I cannot share with you because it’s of a legal document. Short of the story line for “Lost,” there aren’t too many things more complicated than a legal document! I sometimes wonder if legal documents’ complexities are just to inflate lawyers’ fees!

I’ve started mapping a legal document just to help me understand all of the details that are obfuscated by all of the legal jargon. While this won’t help me understand the legal field any better, it does help me comprehend what the document is really saying. If you’ve got a document/paper/article that’s difficult to “digest,” you may find that an Idea Map breaks it down into more manageable, bite-size pieces.

SMEs as Trainers/Instructors

Given the current economy, many organizations are eliminating professional trainers from their salary rolls. While I understand the decision (not agree with, but understand), I worry about it. Too many SMEs are unskilled as presenters and facilitators at best, or unwilling participants at worst!

Man hidingThey’ve become SMEs by focusing on their chosen fields and not on the fine art of message delivery. When it comes time to present their content, they rely on what has gotten them where they are; their technical skills. At times they can even hide behind their erudition which further disconnects them from the audience they should be concerned about.

Unfortunately, the people who pay for this decision are the employees who need the training to do their jobs well. Good training content poorly delivered is no better than poor content well delivered.  It ends up being another example of organizations looking only at the “cost” side of cost/benefit and not enough time looking at the “benefit” side.

Mapping to Overcome Overwhelming

Interview_prepOne of the powerful benefits to Idea Mapping is that it allows us to grasp ideas or concepts that seem overwhelming. This was reinforced to me after I spoke to a Career Connection gathering in Dallas TX this week. After my presentation (fun and learning for all!), a woman told me about how she had used Idea Mapping to prepare for a job interview. The hiring company’s job requirements were extensive and very detailed. The woman I spoke with wanted to make sure that she could match her experience to the job requirements, so she Idea Mapped the role. Unfortunately, she did not get the job, but she was well prepared for the interview. With her whole-brained approach to her job search and preparation, I’m sure her next job is just around the corner!

Top 7 Reasons to Idea Map

If you’re looking for a good reason to start (or continue Idea Mapping), here are 7 of them (top ten is too passé):

7. People will now wonder what you’re doing during business meetings instead of wondering why you’re sleeping

6. Drawing pictures can be considered a part of your note-taking and not just idle doodling

5. You’ll be seen as “creative” because … you use more than one color!

4. You can flatter your boss’s boss by telling her that you are using an accelerated learning/memory tool to take notes on her presentation

3. Organizing your ideas can happen in real time (sorry, nothing witty here, just fact!)

2. You can really confuse people by telling them that you’re “I.M.ing”

1. You can write off those cool colored markers as a business expense

Assuming Can Be Good

If you’ve ever done a tele-presentation (or something similar) during which technology prohibits you from getting feedback from your audience, you may have found yourself doubting your effectiveness. You may have even started feeling like the presentation is going horribly. I know that’s how I felt during my first tele-presentation!

The fact of the matter is that the presentation like this is set up to force you to make an assumption about how it’s going. You can’t get immediate feedback. Since you have to make an assumption, you might as well assume that it’s going well. When you make that assumption, you have more energy and exude more of your natural personality. You also gesture more frequently, which adds more inflection to your voice! So go ahead and make that assumption; I promise that when you “assume” you don’t always make an “ass out of u and me.”

FamilyNet TV/Radio Interview

Last Friday, August 28, I had the opportunity to be a guest on FamilyNet’s TV/Radio simulcast morning show. FamilyNet is a family-friendly network and can be found on Sirius radio (channel 161) and many cable, satellite and broadcast TV carriers.

We talked about how we can tap into our own creativity. It was a fun and interactive 12-minute segment. At one point we went over a technique I commonly use in workshops and we referred to the photo I’ve attached in this blog. Give the interview a listen by going to their website or you can go to www.familynet.com, click on “Mornings Home” (Lorri and Larry) and got to “Featured Guests and Podcasts.” Click on RSS and you’ll find my interview (it hasn’t yet posted on iTunes).Wrong way sign

Sea Shells and Show + Tell

Collecting sea shells is a lot like Idea Mapping! I just spent several days at the beach with my wife and two young sons. When we first went to the shore, my sons started grabbing all of the whole shells they could find and took them back to our room. Each day they would grab even more shells. As we got ready to come back home, they kept only the ones that were worthy of “Show and Tell.”

Idea Mapping is the same way. When you are making your first draft, include all of the ideas that occur to you. Make sure that you allow yourself  “several trips to the shore.” This will give you a larger universe from which you can select your ideas that are “Show and Tell” worthy. You may find that you also need more than one evaluation sessions to trim your map. That’s good – better to have a lot of ideas to choose from than not enough! To paraphrase Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, “The best way to have a good sea shell is to have a lot of sea shells!”

Preparing for Interview Idea Map

Unfortunately, many of you reading this are interviewing for jobs. Idea Maps should be an integral part of your preparation.

Start your map with questions you have been asked in past (recent or distant) interviews. Then start adding questions you might ask of yourself. Allow yourself to be a little crazy and have some fun with questions you might be asked. Add in questions you hope the interviewer won’t ask! Finish by including questions that you want to ask interviewers.

Once you’ve got an exhaustive map of interview questions, start generating responses to those questions. Don’t write out complete sentences; write down “trigger” words. Those are words that will trigger your memory to what you want to include in your answer. Now for the key to all of this … practice your answers several times. Your answers should be a little different each time; this ensures that you are being natural and conversational.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be interviewed on a radio show about creativity. I’ve already started my map!

Adding PassionTakes Practice

It’s one of my favorite times of the year – The National Football League is getting ready for it’s season. At the end of a disappointing season last year, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips vowed that he would change his approach and be less passive. He’s apparently also trying to be more passionate. During this year’s “State of the Team” speech, Phillips said, “It’s football time” and then slapped the table twice.

While I applaud Phillips’ attempts at being more passionate, his table slapping was mis-timed and had no effect on his vocal intonation.  The effect was that he sounded artificial and insincere in his attempt to be more passionate; his gesture of table slapping was an afterthought. Many of the local sports talk show hosts here in Dallas have been poking fun at Phillips weak attempt at emphasis.

This is a good lesson for anyone who delivers presentations. If you want to be more passionate when presenting, your gestures should precede the words you want to emphasize and you should practice your delivery, instead of just winging it!

Changing Your Thinking and Your Body

If you’re like me and most people who exercise, you’ve probably followed a similar routine for several years. You run, walk, or do resistance training similar to the way you’ve done it for years. Recently I’ve started hearing about a new approach to exercise that is actually faster and more effective. It’s called “burst training.” Burst training is a wonderful example of one type of creativity.

Burst training is a series of short, maximum effort exercises followed by recovery periods. For example, one day this week, instead of going for my 50-minute walk, I did four all-out (as all out as a 50-year old can do) sprints of about 40 to 45 seconds. After each sprint, I rested about 2-3 minutes to get my heart rate back down below 100 beats per minute. Then I did another sprint. All told, my workout lasted about 12 minutes!An easy way to think of this is the parable of the race between the tortoise and the hare.

Research about this approach to working out was first popularized in the mid-1990s in Canada and has been repeated several times in the past few years at McMaster University (published in the Journal of Applied Physiology), and Southwest Missouri State University. If you want to do a little research on your own, Google “Burst Train” – there’s a video of some Dallas Stars hockey players going through an intense workout.

Sometimes making an improvement to something starts with throwing out the old ways of thinking! Such is the way with creativity too!