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Deborah Caulfield's blog - disability arts online
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Mind mapping: How to see a mess in a mass of stuff. / 29 September 2014

I've had a(nother) clear-out. Open University B789 course notes have long gathered dust upon the at-risk register.

I took the chunky file ino the garden to read. Result? Too interesting to throw away.

For example, this diagram is a mind map I made at the beginning of the course. The diagram says as much about the state of my mind as the subject I was studying (voluntary sector management).

Mind mapping is a way to organise one's thoughts, to help write essays and speeches, or exam revision, and so on.

Instead of linear list-making, you write the key subject in the centre of the paper or screen, adding thoughts, as they occur, linking them with lines that radiate outwards as branches and sub branches.

Mind mapping uses both left and right sides of the brain. The right side (cortex) deals with images and rhythm. The left cortex does words and numbers.

Once out there, it's easier to give the mass of ideas and thoughts a structure, to see what goes together, to form a coherent whole.

One of the two central themes in this mind map is meetings. Sub issues are culture and style, problems and anxiety, function and purpose. My conclusion, as I recall, was that the organisation that I was involved in had a great many problems, about which I could nothing.

According to this diagram, the purpose of meetings was unclear, giving rise to anxiety and confusion about what the hell we were there for.

The organisation's structure was so loose that everything was everyone's responsibility, and no one was responsibe for anything in particular. People with ideas and skills felt under-valued. Obtaining everyone's views (including those not present) was more important (for historical reasons) than anyone being alowed to make a decision.

Leadership was banned. Management was a dirty word.

Fascinating!

It was a mess, as this diagram illustrates.

Nowadays everything is wonderfully clear. Thus: The world is in a mess; so our organisations are in a mess; therefore I am in a mess.

Or is it the other way round?

I give up.