Technology in Marketing
Collaborative Mind Mapping with Comapping
We are all faced with the problem of "information overload," whether it's managing our own information or sharing it with others.
Everyone in business has this problem, especially marketers who need to ensure that:
- Major marketing programs support the company's strategy
- Each marketing program's projects and tasks support their program's goals
- Everyone on the marketing team understands their role in supporting the strategy
There are now good graphical techniques and software tools for dealing with the information overload problem. One of the best tools for this is Comapping, a "mind mapping" tool that is both a Web-based service and a software product.
A mind map diagram has a central concept or topic at the center, with lots of sub-topics and sub-sub-topics radiating out from the center. A simple mind map makes a great visual, but a mind map with lots of sub-topics is hard to understand.
Comapping solves three of the biggest problems with mind mapping:
- Showing both the high-level concept plus details together
- Collaborating with team members on concepts and action plans
- Sharing knowledge with other people
Showing the big idea
I have found it challenging to use a mind map to show the "big picture" of a situation - and - quickly explore the details, context, and relationships.
The "visual outline" of a mind map can work well for a simple diagram with one or two levels of sub-topics. However, a mind map frequently becomes confusing when lots of details are added around the outer edge of the drawing.
Collaborating with others
Another big challenge in using traditional mind mapping software is the lack of collaboration capability.
With the growing trend for teams to work together on the Internet, it's very productive to collaborate with other people in real-time during a brainstorming or planning meeting to create a mind map.
Interactive learning tool
The third challenge in using mind maps is finding ways to help other people learn from the knowledge that went into it by its creators. A problem with traditional mind mapping software tools occurs when people try to understand someone else's mind map.
Casual users of someone's mind map start asking questions like, "Where do I start?" and "What is the context?" and "How can I follow what you are showing me?"
A fully expanded mind map shows so much detail that it's hard to focus on just one area. But, closing branches and opening other branches doesn't always show the context for each branch.
Overcoming the challenges of traditional mind mapping tools
The developers of Comapping overcame these problems by creating a whole new approach to mind map diagrams, presentation, and collaboration.
Comapping is similar to other mind mapping tools when:
- Entering text in a node
- Selecting a small graphic iron for the node
- Adding multiple branches under a topic or sub-topic
- Including links to Web pages and other maps
However, Comapping is significantly different from other mind mapping tools in several ways:
- Left-to-right orientation - Sub-topics all grow to the right of their parent topic. This consistent orientation is easier to read than the radial approach (left, right, up, and down) that's used in traditional mind mapping.
- Animated branch expansion/contraction - Clicking from one sub-topic on a branch to another sub-topic "grows" to reveal the new material. This animated approach makes it much easier to see the context of subtopics than simply "snapping" to a different view.
- Collaboration in real-time - Multiple people can work on a mind map together, watching as others add or edit nodes. It's easy to capture ideas during a conference call or an in-person meeting, which allows everyone to participate. It also means that everyone will have the same final diagram showing the ideas, plans, and decisions from the meeting.
- Slide show presentations - Presentations can be created in directly in Comapping that allow a presenter to move through a sequence of "slides" that are actually pre-defined views of a map. This can eliminate the need to convert a mind map into static PowerPoint slides and lose the interaction of a live mind map.
- Web-based & software - Maps are accessible in a Web browser and traditional PC/Mac software. Being Web-based, Comapping maps are easily accessible and sharable.
- Include maps in Web pages - Comapping provides the HTML tags to embed a map on a Web page. An interactive, browsable mind map turns a Web page into a knowledge discovery and learning tool.
You can explore the interactive Comapping Review map on this page to learn more about Comapping, and to experience how easy it is to navigate a Comapping map.
If you are new to mind mapping, it will take a bit of effort to move from making notes on pen and paper to capturing notes in a Comapping mind map.
Details and complexity form the texture of our lives, but those details can quickly become overwhelming. I've found that starting a Comapping map early in a project gives me a place to capture ideas and concepts as they come along - and find them later.
If you already use other mind mapping tools, you'll find that Comapping is both familiar and different. The left-to-right orientation will seem strange at first, but others will find your mind maps easier to understand. And, collaborating with people in real-time will quickly feel both comfortable and productive.
Comapping makes it easy to manage and share information in ways that's interesting, engaging and understandable. As "information overload" becomes more of problem, Comapping can help overcome the overload.