A Problematic Context
Problems are part of our everyday lives. The way in which we choose to relate to our problems dictates the level of dependence or independence we have towards them. On one hand, when our problems seem too big for us to handle, it is most likely that we have developed a certain dependence on them, due to the fact that we have become completely overwhelmed and absorbed by their power. On the other hand, having the right perspective on problems may grant us the opportunity to observe not only how big our problems are, but also how great our chances are in overcoming them. Any athlete would tell you that the way to achieving excellence has to go through long hours of training, discipline and hard work. For this very reason, becoming a champion and overcoming obstacles does not happen overnight, on the final day of a competition, but rather with every single decision that is made, by giving something up in order to gain something valuable in return. The same principle applies to our minds as we engage in problem solving. In our lifelong journey, our problems represent necessary obstacles that keep our minds active and in shape. The difference is that to us, every day represents “the final day of competition” as we confront our problems with bravery. The battle is ongoing, and the only breaks that we can afford to take are those that allow us to mind map effective solutions for the next challenge.
Problem Solving Tools
There are numerous tools or strategies which can help us gain a new perspective on our problems. Depending on the nature of the problem we are confronted with and the overall effects it has on our life, business, or organization etc, it is our responsibility to choose a problem solving tool accordingly. Some of the most popular problem solving tools and strategies that are being used refer to: SWOT analysis, 5 Why Analysis, Pareto Analysis, PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act), Kepner Tregoe strategy, Decision Matrix and Decision Trees. However, in addition to these techniques, there are also other tools which in spite of their effectiveness, they may not be as known, one such technique is mind mapping.
The distinctiveness of mind mapping in problem solving
In contrast to the other techniques, mind mapping is not only a problem solving tool but also a way of thinking that focuses on finding potential solutions for a given problem. With mind mapping, the mind takes advantage of using the natural inclinations of its senses in order to visualize information and make connections between ideas and concepts easily. Because of the natural way in which mind mapping carries us out of problems, its characteristics are unique and quite easy to use especially when we increase its potential by using a friendly helper such as some online or offline software mind mapping tools and applications. Below is an example of how mind maps can be used for problem solving:
1) Name and visualize the problem and its effects
2) Analyze the potential solutions to the problem, while still visualizing its effects
3) Structure the information related to causes, effects and solutions
4) Point out the relationships between causes and effects in order to identify the best solution:
By using a mind mapping application, it is fairly easy to spot the problem and present it on the mind maps, including all the components pertaining to it, namely: the causes, the effects and the solutions, together with the relationships between them. The more we train our mind to think a certain way, the better we will become at practicing that particular thing. Therefore, as we teach our minds to visualize concepts and draw out solutions in order to solve problems in a very practical and natural way, we develop a new mindset, which is more prepared to confront problems and visualize the potential for unlimited solutions.