Using Mind Maps for Business Strategy Development in the Water Industry
In this mind map case study, we hear from Jim Lauria, a senior figure in the water industry, about his use of mind maps to develop business strategy, organise ideas & team members, and remain focused on what is truly important to him.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a senior executive in the water treatment industry with over twenty years of global experience in the agricultural, municipal, industrial and commercial markets. I hold a Bachelor of chemical engineering degree from Manhattan College, and in 2004 provided peer review for the World Health Organization's publication on drinking water treatment. I have written feature and cover articles for the leading water trade magazines, and my blog posts about global water management practices have received responses from all levels of industry and government.
How were you introduced to mind mapping?
I had been hand drawing mind maps for many years to enhance my creativity for problem solving. I started using Mindjet in 1999 when my fiancée Laurie (yep, that’s right, she’s now my wife Laurie Lauria) showed me an article about mind mapping software she found in an airline magazine. She recognized that since I was both an engineer and a writer, a software tool that would allow me to use both my left brain and right brain would be quite beneficial.
What role do mind maps play in your current work?
I use mind mapping primarily for business strategy development which includes a wide range of applications:
- Product and service differentiation
- SWOT analysis for my company and our competitors
- Collaboration to write articles and blogposts, create presentations, produce videos and all the other essential communication tools that brand my products and services
- Brainstorming and creative problem solving
- Decision-making tool – go/no go on projects and initiatives
The tasks could be as simple as sketching out a weekly to-do list, plotting a SWOT analysis, organizing a sales pitch or outlining a presentation. It could be as complex as designing a customer relationship management (CRM) system, laying out the year’s communication plan or mapping a territory sales plan, right down to key accounts, reps and dealers, opportunities and competitive positioning. Themes flow into ideas, which connect to supporting thoughts and links and tactics.
I use mind mapping as a team-building tool, a communications tool. It’s a flagpole to rally my team around.
I like to think of mind mapping as a 21st century whiteboard, but without all that dry-erase ink smeared on my shirt cuffs and without the illegible handwriting that’s made generations of skull sessions into big headaches.
What do you perceive to be the greatest benefit of working this way?
It allows me to see the forest and the trees – the big picture and the details all at the same time. Tracking old maps I have created in the past allows me to see how my thinking has changed on a particular subject and has been particularly helpful when I have been evaluating future trends in the water field.
The ability to attach Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, photos, links to websites, etc. – allowing me to capture all the essential elements of a given topic in one place. This also allows for the map to be updated over time making it a living document. I like to use Mindjet on my iPhone and iPad to post my life’s vision map (a kind of a portable “vision board”) so that over the course of the day I can often refer to what is truly important to me, my family and my life’s work. I also like Biggerplate as a platform to share helpful maps with the mind mapping community.
Do you think there is scope for wider adoption of mind mapping in the water industry?
Ideas are the currency of the future and mind mapping (or as Jamie Nast calls it, idea mapping) will be a skill that will help any industry meet the future challenges it will face.
What do you think are the greatest barriers to this wider adoption?
As Einstein said: “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” People will have to recognize that mind mapping and other visual thinking tools must be more widely adopted to solve the more complex problems of the future.
If you have a real world example of mind maps making a difference at work, at school, or anywhere, let us know via Twitter!