A couple weeks back I received an email from a friend at Mindjet, the makers of MindManager.  They were looking for customer vignettes or success stories about using MindManager.

Now I have been using MindManager for several years and have many success stories.  Using MindManager its actually very easy to have success stories, but after several years it becomes some what difficult to pick them all out.  Its like trying to pick out your favorite Michael Jordan moment.  MJ had so many moments that they all start to swirl together like a flock of birds resting on a bar raised high up in the heavens.

Well for me, I did not think of a business success, but a very personal success that I experienced with my family.  It was not a success where we gathered together and learned how to fix a business process or improve the bottom line, or even resolve a decades old dispute about who burned down the barn 100 years ago (that’s still a mystery and probably one that will never be revealed).

Some of you may have recalled my writing about this in the past.

I turned to MindManager as a useful tool to help my family come together in the face of my grandfather’s recent passing.  My grandfather, Harold Bumeter, passed away last winter and after sorting through family photos all day long and reliving many memories, my family and I were exhausted and a little overwhelmed with the preparations for his funeral, which would take place the next day.

I intended to say a few words at the funeral and I wanted to gather up as many important perspectives and thoughts from the rest of my family.  At the end of the day, the last thing I wanted was to miss something important or not say something that needed to be said.

I also did not want the words that I would say to be something that only I offered, I wanted to include the rest of the my family.  Its a heavy responsibility to speak on behalf of your family and not easy, yet we felt that we owed this in small part to my grandfather.

So we gathered everyone together in my grandparents living room.  We removed a large painting from the wall and I hooked up my portable projector to my computer and the entire family gathered around and we started to map out the memories and thoughts that were important to us.  The things that had influenced us the most,the things that we remembered the most, and the things that made my grandfather special.

Everyone contributed and the effort worked very well.  When I say worked, I do not mean to imply that we sat down and brainstormed up a eulogy.  Instead we all started to heal a little bit.  Now it has not been a year, and from my perspective and I’m sure for many of us, the healing process continues and will not be over for some time.  However, the essence of the utility of mindmapping in this fashion really enabled us to communicate with each other, and in some ways to reach a kind of consensus.

So when Mindjet asked for my favorite mindmap, this was the map that I shared.  There are not many tools that you can use in a corporate board room to get the job done and still trust enough to take home to your family and help each other communicate and heal through a family tragedy.

The mindmap itself does not really encompass all the rules of mind mapping as they might be envisioned by a Buzan purist.  I’m not knocking that school of thought, but I would point out that mindmaps do 2 important things.

  1. They help us reach consensus and communicate
  2. They help us make connections and process information faster.

This particular map was useful for rapidly working through the first point.  It was not designed for future study or work or even a project plan so point 2 was irrelevant.

Regardless, it did work and for that my time and effort working with MindManager as a mindmapper and a trainer has been light years beyond invaluable.