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Diagramming Look Book- Interview with Chuck Frey

In this post, we speak to mind map blogger, enthusiast and author, Chuck Frey, about his new Diagram Software Book.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am the founder and author of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, which is now celebrating its 10th year of operation. I am also keenly interested in creativity as it can be applied to business. I guess you could say I also have an orientation towards tools and techniques. Tools extend man's abilities. In the same way, visual thinking and creative thinking tools extend the reach of our brains so we can look at things from fresh perspectives, imagine new possibilities and develop innovative solutions.

As the need for visual thinking has grown in business, I have expanded the scope of the Mind Mapping Software Blog to cover all types of visual thinking, planning and problem-solving. These areas are endlessly fascinating to me, because they leverage the brain and our creative capacities in ways that words and numbers alone cannot.

I also operate a personal blog, , where I write about creativity, productivity and personal development. Under the banner of both blogs, I've written a number of books, which I have published online. The latest one is called Eureka! , and it explores how you can set up the personal information management software Evernote to create a process for generating ideas, capturing, evaluating and implementing them.

By training, I am a journalist and marketer, so I am always looking for the story behind the product, service or company, and what makes it truly unique. That's what makes me tick. I'm on a journey of constant curiosity and discovery, and I share my findings with my readers.

How were you first introduced to mind mapping?

Early on in my studies of creativity, I became friends with a creative thinking expert in Chicago, Gerald Haman. He opened me up to the variety of thinking tools and techniques that could be used to envision creative solutions to business challenges. It was through him that I first learned about hand-drawn mind maps. Soon after, I learned about Inspiration, one of the earliest mind mapping software programs. I went to Chicago to see a demonstration of it and was completely blown away by its power and flexibility, the way in which it could manipulate ideas and draw forth creative thinking.

What do you think is the greatest benefit of mind mapping?

Executives and knowledge workers today are faced with more complexity and more ambiguity than ever in their projects and tasks. Despite that, they still need to make smart decisions and get things done. They need a tool that can help them to gather, organize, distill and share information and knowledge.

Mind mapping software is uniquely designed to do just that. It helps people get clarity, make better informed decisions, organize and present information and tackle projects very efficiently. And it's the right tool for the times. For several years now, I have been calling mind mapping software 'the savvy executive's secret weapon,' because no other type of software supports this type of visual thinking and information organization.

Based on the surveys I do of my readers every few years, mind mapping software delivers on average a 20% increase in productivity to its business users. Slicing and dicing the survey data by experience level shows a direct correlation between the productivity increase and the person's level of knowledge and comfort in using mind mapping software. In other words, expert users get the biggest payoff- 40% greater productivity.

How does mapping fit into your work and personal life?

I use it as a planning tool for bigger projects. I also find it's quite useful for mapping out the content of white papers, reports, books and other more complex documents. It enables me to quickly create a hierarchical structure for the content, a skeleton if you will. I can then move it over to another application such as Microsoft word or Evernote for further development. It prevents me from over-writing and results in more focused, informative and persuasive content.

Tell us about your new Diagramming Software Book.

It's called the Diagramming Software Look Book. It's designed to help business people understand the many different ways they can represent information and knowledge in visual formats.

It covers 25 types of diagrams, including an image of each, and explanation of what it's used for, plus links where readers can learn more about each diagram type. In addition, at the back of the book are software profiles, so readers can also learn about the programs he was to produce these diagrams.

What prompted you to write the book?

In recent years, I have expanded the content of the Mind Mapping Software Blog to focus on other forms of visual thinking, including diagramming. It occurred to me that many of these types of diagrams - which I've become familiar with from using diagramming software - are a bit obscure. I came across the idea of a look book while working with the Content Marketing Institute on a similar eGuide that provided a cross-section of examples of visual content. It briefly explained what each one represented and how readers could adapt the thinking behind them.

Look books are designed to inspire readers and expand their thinking about what's possible. It occurred to me that I could produce a similar type of e-book for my readers to shed some light on the variety of business diagrams they can use to represent business information visually.

What sort of response has the book had?

The response has been excellent so far. I want to get it into as many hands as possible so it's available as a free download from the blog; you don't have to input your email address or name to download it. You can just come and get it. In two month's time it has already been downloaded over 600 times.

Who would most benefit from reading the book?

Anyone whose job includes the need to communicate concisely and clearly with other people. That describes most managers and senior level executive roles in organizations today.

Where can we get it?

You can download it here!

What are your thoughts on Biggerplate as a resource for mind mapping?

If you're looking for inspiration on what's possible with mind mapping software, is a great place to view a wide variety of mind maps that others have created for a wide variety of business, education, personal and other uses.

Beyond that, I'm excited to see that mind mapping software developers are integrating with Biggerplate so that users of their software can easily save mind maps directly to the website or can download maps for use as templates to speed and guide development of their projects.

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