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Mind Maps in Action: Exit Interviews

In our latest 'Mind Maps in Action' post, we spoke to mind map expert Pascal Bernardon about the use of mind maps to extract important tacit knowledge from retiring or departing employees within an organisation, and (perhaps more importantly) how to develop a clear plan to transfer this knowledge to other team members with the organisation!

(You can visit Pascal's blog here)

Can you tell us a little bit about your working background, and how you first started using mind maps?

I have been working in Knowledge Management since 2006; for me it was the next step after 29 years in IT. I began to work with conceptual maps using C-Maps in 2006. It was a great doiscover for me to draw knowldge about business communities. Then quickly i discover an another way to snapshot knowlledge by using mindmapping, in this case i began with Mind Manager. But i always use this 2 types of mapping, the first one to understand a complex topic and the second one to explain and transfer knowledge of a part of this complex topic.

How have you been using mind maps in your work over the last few years?

Every day I use Mindmapping to organize

  • My job:
    • Schedules
    • Action plan
    • Answer to RFP
    • Meetings
    • animate brainstorming
    • follow Conference
    • notes about book i have read
    • Lessons learned in MOOC
    • and so one
  • My life
    • to plan my next holidays
    • notes about book i have read
    • lessons learned in MOOC
    • and so one

When we met in Paris, we discussed the use of mind maps to extract tacit knowledge from employees within organisations. Can you give us an overview of what you have experienced in this area?

Yes it is a service i designed in 2006 in response to Babyboom retirements. But now i also provide this service for every change in job position within organizations.

The process begins with an interview of the manager of the employee or the team concerned. This interview help me to design the scope of the further exit interviews.

Next, I conduct 3 interviews per employee during 4 or 6 weeks in the course of their own schedules. Between each interview, I begin to modelize tacit knowledge extracted from interviews and then I ask the employee to validate the tacit knowledge I discovered.

At the end of the interviews I can propose a Knowledge tranfer plan. In this plan i have always determined appropriate criteria to ensure knowledge transfers.Here is the map i use to drive interviews

Clearly this could be an invaluable process to support exit interviews, when there is a risk of important knowledge leaving the business. How does your interview and mind map approach help to extract the key information from people before they leave the business?

I use templates template to drive stortytelling interviews. Storytelling is very useful method to extract tacit knowledge, Employees, Managers like to speak about their experiences. After, you have to analyse semantic topic used during theses interviews to catch tacit knowledge and to ask employee or manager to explain it in an explicit way.

For example, in my last mission in a cast iron foundry, the expert tells me how he develops a specific techniquie of casting for keel. This strategic knowledge has never been explained to other co-workers in detail within his company; Storytelling helped me to discover it in various experiences that the expert was telling me about.

In your opinion and experience, what is the potential long-term impact for an organisation if they adopt this approach?

One of the most important benefits to use mind-mapping are:

  • To be forced to think about terminology used before sharing a map
  • To provide summary (keywords) and details at the same place
  • To foster knowledge transfer
  • To organize simply your ideas
  • To plan actions for a team
  • To organize meeting and brainstorming easily
  • To summarize a book reading

When a team use mind-mapping every day, something change in behaviors and in relationships. Each member wants to bring the essential and useful stuff to share.

I named this point of view the 3U method:

  • Useful
  • Usable
  • Used

Do you have any tips for managers who want to try and implement this process?

Yes, take one of your notes or long email you send to your team and try to mind-map it and to exchange with your team members, you’ll see quickly that’s your map fosters collaboration and understanding more than your note or email…

And to choose the software, I propose you this point of view:

  • MindManager if you work in Ingeneer and technical culture
  • iMindMap if you work with creative teams (marketing, communication, Universities, etc)
  • MindMeister if you work on web platform only

Thanks to Pascal for sharing this fantastic use case with us. You can connect with Pascal on Twitter (in French or English) at

Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter or leave a comment below!

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Barney is Community Manager at Biggerplate and shares user stories, mind mapping tips, and other news and updates from our global member community!
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