“With mind mapping, we have managed to shape our processes, thoughts, and every aspect of our media work in a manageable and comprehensible manner, a factor which is extremely important when carrying out this work on a voluntary basis.”
– Thomas Schwarz, Media & Communication Working Group of the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Brigade
Authorities and public bodies are far more innovative than their reputations would have us believe. Innovative mind mapping methods are currently gaining ground and are being used to visualise and process all manner of tasks more clearly.
Numerous offices, associations, and public organisations are already working with “thought maps” — an insider tip that is increasingly blossoming into a popular trend. There is a simple reason for this; namely, that mind mapping simplifies complex work procedures or projects, and also adds a considerable fun factor to these. This is mainly because each user is able to create their “thought map” in line with their personal ideas. Ideas, tasks, or deadlines on any topic are gathered and structured in a completely intuitive way. Any office documents required can be included or linked with just a few clicks of the mouse. If the map software is easy to operate and the results are visible immediately, the mere act of putting together a map is itself enjoyable.
Anyone faced with the task of rolling out a new operating system for an official body is either fortunate enough to be able to draw on experiences, or is simply starting from scratch. In situations like this, having access to software in which all ideas can be gathered in an unstructured manner is useful.
“I can honestly say that I always use this method to organise my thoughts and ideas,” explains Burghard Metje, IT Manager in the municipality of Halstenbek in Schleswig-Holstein. His jobs include ensuring that PC workstations used by town hall employees are equipped to the highest standards and are serviceable, being on hand to answer IT questions for other public establishments, and planning and implementing long-standing, large-scale projects (for example the construction and configuration of a grammar school). Burghard Metje has managed to carry out all of the above successfully for years using the MindManager software.
Henry Sachse from Dresden Transport Services is in a similar position, as he is tasked with installing an intranet based on SharePoint. “Thanks to the structured approach [of MindManager], we were always able to see the big picture, even when going into detail. Software-assisted mind mapping has helped us to act, rather than react, during the project. And that is something that is worth its weight in gold.“
In principle, there is hardly any instance in which mind mapping cannot be used, and the map structure actually allows for maximum flexibility, whilst also clearly depicting complex facts and making structures that are highly interwoven more clear. If you start a project using this method, you can collate everything in a central map in just a few steps.
With MindManager you can, for example, note everything down in a completely unstructured manner in mind mapping mode, and then use Drag & Drop to organise the project elements. Branches are positioned on the map for the different topics, on which additional information such as documents, websites, or contacts can be added as an attachment or hyperlink.
Once all of the important information has been gathered, the different tasks can be assigned to different people; a deadline can also be assigned for these. Dependencies between a number of tasks or components, such as budget or resource management, can also be visualised on the map. Complex projects can also be filtered according to specific keywords or responsibilities, so that everything can be seen at a glance.
It is therefore extremely easy to assign tasks to each individual –for example, to convert ideas into concrete tasks and projects. Anyone who so wishes can even present this from the map; an attractive option which generally guarantees more attention than the long-standing PowerPoint presentations. This is something that is certainly worth trying.
Protecting the Constitution and Police Operations
This method of presentation is not just highly regarded within institutions in Germany, but also in neighbouring countries –such as at the Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution [Österreichischen Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz]. The mind mapping method is used there in order to discuss operative case descriptions, or as a means of implementing strategic analysis when developing and implementing different preventative measures in the field of state security. “If we then present our results to the Public Prosecution Service, they are able to evaluate the connections and risks much more quickly and easily and arrange for the necessary measures to be taken,” explains a member of the Austrian Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Police in the Swiss capital have also been inspired by this: “I have been completely won over by mind mapping, as this is a method that has demonstrated its benefits in many areas,” says Peter Schneeberger, Duty Manager of the Technology Department with the Berne cantonal police.
Peter Schneeberger and other employees of the Berne cantonal police are using this method to create suspect profiles, do forensic comparisons, organise major police operations, and carry out telephone checks and house searches. “Complex connections can therefore be very plausibly and clearly depicted,” explains the police officer.
A great deal has changed since employees of the cantonal police started using the visualisation and management software. The clear map structure helps employees to understand the circumstances of an operation quickly, analyse them, and initiate the necessary measures.
Mind maps are increasingly attracting users and fans in the public sector. “At our public administration events, we have noticed that mind mapping is gaining acceptance and is developing from an insider tip to a trend that must be taken seriously”, explains Jörg Steiss, Regional VP DACH, Eastern Europe & Nordics of Mindjet. What is more, in addition to the success factors, the fun factor also plays a major role here – from playfully creating branches to implementing icons and individual forms of map models creatively.
More About Mind Mapping
Mind mapping describes a technique established by Tony Buzan, in which complex topics can be visualised in a clear way. It is suitable for thought mapping, projects, and documentation purposes. The principle of free association makes it possible for thoughts to be developed without restrictions, in order to make optimum use of brain capacity. The result of this type of work is known as the mind map or thought map. The structure of these maps strongly resembles the development of neurobiological processes in the human brain; therefore, mind maps offer a much more rapid and lasting insight and overview of factual details than text-only documents.
This article is also available in German. View it here.