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Managing Projects vs Project Management

In our Annual Report 2017, we revealed that 65% of participants had used mind mapping to plan/manage their projects, while 69% of the participants actually had no 'official' project management qualification.

We were really interested to get perspectives on the above result from the Annual Survey. So we asked members of our Facebook Business Club Group whether this supports the idea of mind mapping as a lightweight project tool for non-Project Managers (i.e. most of us...)? And their responses were quite interesting...

The response from a participant at MindJet told us that he does see mind mapping being used as a lightweight tool for non project-Managers:

"I see accidental informal project managers using it more like a task management app / project / life dashboard and more formal project managers within organizations that seek out more advanced capabilities. We hear from fewer formal project managers because they're usually not the buyers of the software and within enterprises that handle purchasing for teams."

This is certainly an insightful perspective, which leads to 2 particular questions assuming there are many more 'accidental/informal project managers' out there than formal PMs (therefore a big potential user group for us all to engage with):

  1. What tools are the 'informal project managers' using before they stumble onto mind mapping software? If we knew more about this, we can maybe pitch mind mapping more effectively to others out there who may currently be getting frustrated by using non-mapping tools for things that mapping is well-suited.

  2. What is the catalyst for the informal PM to seek out mind mapping tools? Is it driven by frustration with a toolkit, a roadblock in a project, something else, or a combination of these things?!

We can get some more insight about question 1 from the Annual Survey data (we asked people what other non-mapping tools they use). But we are particularly interested in that moment of truth that answers question 2... what is the trigger for an accidental PM to go looking for something better... and do people go looking for "mind mapping tools" on google, or do they search "project management tools", or just "help me I'm an accidental project manager and I'm stuck with this project....!"

Answers on a postcard from around the world please...!

Software are also somehow pushing in that direction, with more and more features geared towards projects and task management. It is interesting to read iMindMap's description as an "all-in-one Mind Mapping, Brainstorming & Project Planning software". It's not just mind mapping alone anymore !

At the other end of the spectrum, we even see project management apps getting into mind mapping : Zenkit, for instance, released a "mindmap view" which can prove very interesting if this feature develops.

Indeed, there is a spectrum: at one end are the well-known mind mapping tools adding task/project components, and then at the other end there are a number of non-mind mapping tools adding mind mapping components. Zenkit is just one of the ones we've seen over the last year, but in the Biggerplate office we actually have a 'radar' with more than 10 applications that we have identified, or who have contacted us, just in the last year alone!

Interestingly, several of these tools are extremely niche and specialist, but are adding/integrating a mind mapping function for different reasons. A couple of examples include NVIVO (for data analysis), QASYMPHONY (software testing) and INLOOX (projects) to name just a few!

We think it's an encouraging sign that there is growing recognition of the usefulness of the mind map structure as a schematic for organising ideas and information. We have been saying for many years that mind mapping is "the missing link" and that we must therefore figure out where it "fits".

Having companies approaching this question from the other end of the spectrum is (in our view) really illustrating some interesting use cases for where mind mapping might fit with existing processes.

As suggested in relation to Zenkit - many of these mapping tools look a bit 'light' if you held them up in isolation against the established mapping tools that we all know, but then again many of these companies are not trying to create a new pure mind mapping tool, but simply integrate a mapping view into their existing product. It will be interesting to see if/when/where the different ends of the spectrum progress closer and meet somewhere in the middle!

We are very grateful for the group perspectives on Managing Projects vs Project Management around mind mapping. Are you one of the 'non-official' project managers using mind mapping? How did you come to find mind mapping as a tool? Please get in touch with us and let us know your perspectives!

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Ruth manages our global mind mapping community: sharing news, stories, and updates! Community Manager de la communauté mondiale des mind mappers; je gère le contenu et marketing !
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